Have you ever made a trip to the supermarket for one or two items and ended up spending money on a basket full of groceries? It used to happen to me, and I bet it’s happened to you as well.
So how does that happen? Why is it so easy to overspend at the supermarket when you only intend to buy just a few items?
It’s because you’re manipulated into spending more, that’s why.
I’m not talking about some nefarious conspiracy that turns you into a shopping robot that has no control over your own behavior. However, I am talking about how supermarkets use their incredible marketing expertise to their full advantage to get you to buy as much as possible when you enter the store.
It’s not illegal, it’s not immoral, it’s just business done well. But if you’re educated about how supermarkets use that expertise to manipulate your shopping behavior, you can recognize it and learn how to keep from falling into the trap of spending more at the grocery store than you should.
Below I’ll show you 13 ways supermarkets trick you into spending more money, and at the end I’d like you to leave a comment and tell me your best tricks for spending less at the supermarket.
13 Ways Supermarkets Trick You Into Spending More Money
Fresh Goods at the Front of The Store
As soon as you enter the supermarket you’re greeted with fresh rotisserie chickens, hot prepared food, and fresh bakery items. The smells are wonderful! The food is tempting! The sensory overload makes you salivate and feel hungry, so you end up buying more as you go deeper into the supermarket.
Produce Near The Front
Healthy fruits and vegetables are near the front so you will put those items in your basket first. Then you don’t feel as guilty when you also buy the higher profit junk food a few aisles over.
Bread, Eggs, and Milk in the Back of the Store
Why are these common items always in the back? It’s to force you to walk past thousands of other products before you get your milk and eggs. Inevitably you will see something else you need or want along the way, so you put that in your shopping cart too. This can easily turn a $3.00 milk run into a $30.00 impulse buying extravaganza!
High Profit Items Are at Eye Level
Items at eye level are easy to spot, and always catch your attention first. Manufacturers know this and pay slotting fees to the supermarket for eye level placement in order to maximize sales. Because of those slotting fees, these eye level items typically cost more too. Those fees have to be paid for somehow, and it’s you that’s paying them.
Kids Eye Level Also Works to Increase Spending
Items that appeal to kids are placed on lower levels where they are more likely to be seen by the little ones, thus producing the “Mommy, I want this!” temper tantrums we’re all familiar with.
Foods Are Paired Together
You’ll always find jelly near the peanut butter, dips near the chips, and pasta near the pasta sauce. The supermarkets know if you buy one of these items that you’re more likely to buy the other if it’s close by.
High Profit Items on the End Caps
The end of aisle displays are some of the most high profile areas in the store. That’s why you’ll see high profit convenience items like sodas and snacks in those high traffic areas. The more visible they are, the more you tend to buy.
Slow Music Increases Spending
Slow music encourages you to slow down, take your time, and shop longer. The longer they can keep you in their store, the more you will buy.
Smaller Floor Tiles in the Expensive Sections
This is a really neat trick. Smaller tiles make the “click-clack” of the shopping cart wheels seem like you’re walking very fast. Your natural inclination is to slow down, causing you to spend more time around the more expensive items in that section.
Free Samples Cause You to Spend More
Everybody loves free samples! Some people even make it a point to shop on free sample day and make a meal out of all the free food. I’m frugal, but I ain’t that frugal! Anyway, giving away free product samples is a proven way to sell more of a given product. Surprisingly, it also spurs sales of other similar products as well.
Most supermarkets have loyalty cards that give you a discount when you use them. One of the reasons they do this is so they can track your spending habits and learn how to maximize their profits each time you visit the store. Understanding the behavior of shoppers is highly important to them.
Bigger Shopping Carts
The bigger the shopping cart, the more you buy. A recent study found that doubling the shopping cart size resulted in 40% more items purchased.
Impulse Buys at the Checkouts
Candy, snacks, and small novelty items at the supermarket checkout line are a proven money maker. They are usually cheaper, higher profit items that are easy to grab without thinking.
You Don’t Have to Be Manipulated into Spending More
It’s amazing to me just how dialed in the supermarkets are when it comes to shopper behavior and how to manipulate it as effectively as possible. They do a great job at it, and that’s what keeps them succeeding in such a low margin business.
But here’s the deal– you don’t have to act like the mindless shopper they want you to be, who is easily and subconsciously manipulated into spending more than you intend every time you enter the supermarket. Just make sure you have a plan for your money before you enter the store.
Here are three quick tips to help you avoid the manipulation:
- Never shop at the supermarket while you’re hungry.
- Always buy from a list you made before you came to the store, and stick to it.
- Pay with cash so you don’t overspend.
When you’re armed with the knowledge above about how your behavior is manipulated and how to counteract that manipulation, it’s easy to save tons of money at the supermarket and never overspend on groceries again!
Question: Do you have a tendency to buy more than you planned at the supermarket? Leave a comment and tell me some of the techniques you use to keep that from happening.