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Supermarkets – Tricks of the Trade

A shopper carrying a shopping basket in a Supermarket

We’re all familiar with the Supermarkets sound-bites – ‘Every Little Helps’, ‘Saving You Money Every Day’ and ‘Value Where It Matters’.

We could probably easily match the slogan to the supermarket, but are they really trying to save us money? Supermarkets use many marketing tools to promote their stores, from celebrity endorsements and voice overs to popular music, but these are on the adverts. What about when you step inside the shop? We know we can check our bills against Tescos and Asda but why is it when you pop in for a pint of milk you come out with half the store in a trolley? Well, if you have noticed that practically every supermarket looks the same, you would have realised this is a clever design not left by chance. So lets start at the entrance.

Supermarkets Chill-Out Zone

Not sure what you came in for? Feeling a little stressed at beginning of your shopping trip? Don’t worry, stores all have a ‘chill-out zone’ right at the front with magazines, newspapers and flowers to help you slow down and take stock of your surroundings.

Fruit and Vegetables

Immediately after the chill-out zone you always find the fruit and vegetables. Why is this? Because fruit and veg look good in a natural light, and now you’ve relaxed sufficiently, supermarkets want to invigorate you by showing you fresh, seasonal produce to get you excited and energised about what’s on offer.

Destination Goods

Now if you only came in for that pint of milk it will invariably be at the back of the store, where most ‘destination goods’ are placed. This means you have to walk past many high-end, tempting  products that you would not normally buy on a usual shopping trip. And what typically happens when you arrive at the shelf where you were expecting to see it? They’ve moved it, forcing you to meander aimlessly around even more products until you eventually find what you actually came in to buy.

Supermarkets brand products placed at eye level

Speaking of shelves, this is another trick up the supermarkets sleeve. Value products are placed at floor level where they are harder to view, whilst more expensive items with a higher profit margin, or the supermarkets own finest brands, are situated at eye level, the ideal spot  for you to see them. Brands will pay a high premium for these top rated shelf space, even more so if they are on the right hand side as research has suggested that as the majority of us are right-handed, we naturally look towards the right.

Supermarkets Promotions

Promotions are everywhere in a supermarket but how can you tell which is the best deal? Try this test on boxes of cereals. Which is the cheapest and therefore better option? Three for two, buy one get one half price, or 40% extra free. (Answer below) You need a degree in maths to be able to work out some of the offers and bearing in mind that some produce is labelled in kilograms and others already pre-packed, it is not easy when you are in a rush to get out. Some offers are clearly not genuine value for money when you check multi buys for instance and find that by buying a single item you are actually saving money this way.

So how can you beat the psychological tricks supermarkets impose on us?

  • Always take a list with you when you go and stick to it.
  • Don’t be swayed by special offers unless you can see they really are value for money.
  • Never shop on an empty stomach. Studies have shown we tend to buy more sugary and carbohydrate items when we are hungry.
  • Don’t go with people who stress you out.

*The answer to the best deal is the three for two. If you say that each box is a £1, three for two means you get 3 boxes for £2 which equates to each box costing 67p. Buy one get one half price is £1.50 equalling each box at 75p each. And therefore the % deal would have to be 50% extra.

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