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Sneaky Ways Supermarkets Use to Make You Spend More - No Kidding!

Sneaky Ways Supermarkets Use to Make you Spend More
Did you know when you go out shopping, it's not you who is making all the decisions. Various strategies have been developed to influence your decisions. Ignorant as we are, we often fall for the sneaky ways supermarkets use to make us spend more...
MarketingWit Staff
Last Updated: Mar 26, 2018
Mother and kid at checkout in supermarket
Ever been to the supermarket to buy a carton of milk, only to return with a handful of items that cost you over $50! Overspending at the supermarket is something many consumers fall prey to. There are just too many items out there beckoning us to buy them. Well, falling to such temptations may not be entirely our fault.

While most of us are under the assumption that we are in control of what we buy in a supermarket, little do we know what goes on behind the scenes. Shopping psychologists spend a lot of time developing strategies, to make us pick a particular product. Invisible tactics used by supermarkets influence our decision-making power. This in turn results in overspending, and our nice little fat wallets get skinnier by the time we walk out of there.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' Consumer Expenditure Survey, on an average, an American family shells out about $312 on groceries every month. If each family takes a closer look at their grocery shopping, it will not be surprising to see that many items were bought impulsively.

Supermarket visits are unavoidable, but this doesn't mean we let ourselves fall into the tempting traps set by shopping psychologists. Awareness plays a big role in overcoming temptation. If you're aware about the trap, you are less likely to fall into it.
Insight into Supermarket Trickery...
Least expensive item is out of reach...
Woman reaching out for juice
▣ Commodities are strategically placed on the shelves, so that we find what the supermarket wants us to find.

▣ In fact, brands even pay supermarkets to stock their products on desired shelves.

▣ The most expensive items are kept within our reach.

▣ The cheaper local brands are placed on the top shelves, way beyond our reach.
▣ Our eyes naturally fall on the items in the middle shelf, and we tend to pick the more expensive brand, that gives maximum profit to the supermarket.

▣ And as if this wasn't enough, supermarkets also place toys, candies, etc. on the lower shelves to catch the attention of little children.
What to do...
Keep your eyes open and scan the shelves properly before tossing an item into your shopping cart. Look for cheaper alternatives that deliver the same thing. And as far as possible, shop without your kids. The fewer people to get tempted, the better!
Layouts keep changing...
Confused shopper
▣ We're all aware that the more we walk in a supermarket, the more we buy, because there's so much scope for temptation.

▣ But are we aware of the fact that the layouts are deliberately changed, so that we don't get familiarized with the sections.
▣ They shuffle them up, forcing us to walk through the whole supermarket to locate the things we need.

▣ So there's no point beating yourself up for not remembering where the flour is kept, because it's not your fault.
What to do...
This may sound boring and clichéd, but make a 'shopping list'! It helps you stay focused. Even if the layout has been changed, keep to your list. Keep crossing out the item in the list that you've found and look for the next one. This way you can avoid purchasing unwanted things. Let the list lead you and not the aisle!
Temptations at the checkout counter...
People at the checkout counter
▣ Have you ever wondered why those goodie stalls are placed right next to the checkout counter? Well, it's to promote impulsive buying.

▣ While you wait for the lady in front of you to unload her overflowing cart, your gaze is naturally going to shift to the candy, gum, magazines, etc. placed on that goodie stall.

▣ They want to tempt you into picking treats which you didn't intend to buy in the first place.
What to do...
Don't allow your gaze to drift. An idle mind is the devil's workshop, so keep your mind occupied with something. Plan about the day ahead or spend the next few minutes texting your friends. Try to avoid supermarkets during rush hours. The lesser time you spend in the line, the better!
King-size carts...
Woman with supermarket basket
▣ The size of the shopping carts seems to be increasing rapidly.

▣ While they may seem to have been introduced for your convenience, they actually play a very important psychological role.
▣ Research proves that customers have a tendency to fill up their trolleys, irrespective of their size. So, unless the cart looks full, we shoppers are not satisfied.

▣ A few items in a large cart don't appear as enough, which is why we shop for more, and the supermarket succeeds in making us spend more.
What to do...
If you have only a few things to purchase, try looking for the shopping basket. Avoid the trolley altogether. If you have quite a few things in mind and a basket wouldn't suffice, then take a trolley, but take along a shopping list, to guide you.
Scent marketing...
Couple buying bread
▣ Ever wondered why a bakery or a florist corner seems to welcome you on the way into a supermarket. Well, it's strategically placed there to stimulate your senses.

▣ The smell of freshly-baked bread makes you feel hungry as you shop, and a hungry shopper is an impulsive buyer.
▣ On the other hand, the fragrance of fresh flowers stimulates the release of a hormone called dopamine, which improves our mood and makes us feel happier. A happier person stays for a longer time in the supermarket, and the longer you stay, the more you buy and more money gets spent!
What to do...
It's always best to eat a nice filling meal before going shopping. Don't worry about the calories, they will get burned while walking in the supermarket. A full stomach won't growl when you pass the goodies on the shelves that beckon you. Do not get distracted by the scents and fragrances. Keep your mind focused to avoid impulsive shopping. Remember all the things that need to be done this month, which require money to be shelled out. This will help maintain a balance.
Price promotions...
Offers and promotions
▣ Supermarket offers are too good to resist! Get 10 for $10! Wow!

▣ It seems so right, that we dart right to the stack, and toss them into our cart.

▣ However, often supermarkets fool you into believing you are paying less. Most of the time the larger packs are more expensive than the smaller ones.

▣ Bulk purchases are blindly believed, but it's time to wake up and use those gray cells that are usually asleep during grocery shopping.
What to do...
Always try to calculate the per unit value of an item before blindly believing the offer. Take a calculator along if you want, now calculators are present in cell phones as well. If you find the offer genuine, go for it, else steer clear of such dodgy deals!
Spacing out the Staples...
Girl shopping
▣ Most shoppers enter the supermarket to stock up on their staples like eggs, milk, etc.

▣ Shopping psychologists know this and deliberately place the eggs, bread, milk, etc. far away from each other.

▣ By doing this they are forcing us to walk through the supermarket and make impulsive purchases on the way, even though we've planned to just make a quick purchase of staples and head back.
What to do...
If it's just staples that you need, try purchasing it from a nearby mom and pop store, instead of heading all the way to the supermarket. This will help avoid temptation. If you don't have an option keep a 5-minute time limit to collect the items and head to the checkout counter. This will again help avoid unwanted temptation.
Dropping the dollar symbol...
Fruits on sale
▣ A product priced at $13.99 looks more expensive than 13.99.

▣ Dropping the dollar symbol makes the customers feel they are paying less.

▣ Research reveals that absence of the dollar symbol reduces inhibitions while buying various products.

▣ This is another psychological trick companies play on customers to spend more. If something feels cheaper, we buy it off.
What to do...
The best way to counter such strategies is paying by cash. Make a list of the things you need to purchase and take the estimated amount of cash. Paying by card means there's no limit. By leaving the card at home, you are minimizing the scope for impulsive purchases.
Sale limits sell like hot cakes...
Guys buying beer
▣ Offer valid only on the first 30 cartons of orange juice! Everybody rushes to purchase the item, because they do not want to be left out of a great bargain.

▣ Little do people bother to find out if the item on sale is really on discount.

▣ Sometimes a time limit is also placed, where the offer is supposed to end on a particular day. This again entices us into impulsive buying.
What to do...
Limit your visits to the supermarket to once a month. For this you will have to prepare a list which will not only include items that are over, but also the ones that will get over within the next month. This will increase the size of your list, but will limit your visits to the supermarket, and prevent spending on unwanted items.
Those eaten together are sold together...
Mother and child shopping
▣ It's not a coincidence that complementing products are kept close together.

▣ The tortilla chips was deliberately placed next to the salsa shelf, to tempt you to buy both.

▣ Sometimes even items that do not complement each other are placed in the same aisle.
Why?

▣ Well, while mommy dear chooses the right cereal for her kids, the candies and junkies with free toys stocked in the same aisle, are waiting to entice her little ones.
What to do...
It's not wrong to pick up things that complement each other, but what's important is picking up only what's required. Often products are bought impulsively, only to warm the pantry shelves. Think before buying! It's best to keep your kids at home to spare them from the snares of the supermarkets.
The key to not falling prey to such supermarket schemes is 'mind control'. It's all in the mind! Keep telling yourself you are not going to succumb to any temptation. If you win the battle in the mind, you are sure to have self control in the mall. Being sure about what you want, will help avoid indulging in impulse buying.