How to beat supermarket psychology


The supermarket can be a dangerous place, especially if you are hungry. What’s more, there are certain ploys the shops use to encourage people to buy more.

When you arrive at the supermarket you will see the fresh flowers for sale just outside the barrier gates. Just inside you will find the fresh fruit and vegetables.

That is all carefully planned.

The bright colours are intended to put you in a good mood. Also, if you stock up on fruit and veges you will feel virtuous. So why not buy yourself a few treats as well?

The deli and bakery sections are often placed next to the fruit and vegetables. The aromas are designed to trigger shoppers' salivary glands. The theory is that they will then be more likely to make impulse buying decisions.

The dairy products and the eggs are usually right at the far end of the supermarket. To get there you have to navigate aisles full of other products.

Of course you don't actually have to take the long way. You could take the short route past the checkout counters to the far end of the supermarket. But more often people do take their time.

That does not mean that people walk up and down each and every aisle. The latest research suggests people will head into certain aisles to look for particular products.

Some goods, like cereals, coffee, or spreads, are placed in areas where people will have more time to stop and browse.

The goods that are placed at eye level tend to be premium products, with premium prices.

People often assume the products placed at the end of the aisles are being discounted. But that's not always the case. Those goods have been carefully selected by the supermarket. The products might be stock that the store is trying to clear.

Apparently the products placed at the end of the aisles can also work as a psychological "welcome mat" to invite you into that particular aisle, which the supermarket hopes will mean increased traffic.

Be careful too about "specials" for larger pack sizes, or discounts (for example buying 12 bottles instead of six). The marketers know that if we buy twice as much we might well consume it twice as fast.

The music you will hear tends to be slower. Studies have found that slow music makes people take their time and spend more money. While classical music can prompt people to buy more expensive products.

Perhaps you should wear some headphones with some carefully selected loud music to get you in and out of the supermarket as quickly as possible?

The checkout counters are another challenge, especially if you have brought kids with you. Those products are generally high margin for the retailer.

If you want to reduce the amount you buy you could go to the supermarket with a set shopping list, or perhaps after the gym, or in the evening when you have already eaten and are full.