Supermarket strategies that encourage spending


  • Something smells really good. Those mouth-watering smells emanate from the nearby bakery or deli, enticing you to buy the more expensive prepared foods. A grocer in New York City even pipes artificial smells into it’s facility to induce shoppers to buy more.

  • Distance makes the heart grow fonder. Ever notice how the things you need most frequently are the furthest away from the door? That’s intentional; supermarkets guide you through aisles of the most attractive foods, hoping you’ll give in to impulse buys.

  • End caps aren’t your friend. End caps are the shelving units at the end of each aisle, where supermarkets place “sale” items that aren’t always that cheap. They’re counting on our preference to avoid heading down an aisle, so we’ll just grab an end-cap item that seems reasonably priced. Don’t give in; wait until you can comparison shop midst the appropriate aisle.

  • Bend and stretch your way to better prices.Manufacturers pay big bucks for prime real estate, usually at adult eye level or, in the case of products marketed specifically to children, on the lower shelves. These corporations shell out extra cash because they know we’re more likely to buy something we can see easily.

  • Losing with loss leaders.There’s a reason supermarkets advertise such cheap prices on milk, bread and other basics. These under-priced items are known as loss leaders because the supermarket is willing to take a loss to bait you into the store, where they’ll make up the difference with more purchases.

  • BOGO can be a no-go. Deals that offer “two for $5” are designed to make shoppers buy more. Ask how much one item would be – chances are it’s still $2.50

  • Super sized can equal undervalue. Bigger isn’t always better, particularly when a manufacturer increases package size while hitting the contents with a shrink ray. Instead, check the weight contents of the package (ie: chips)

  • The checkout stand is a supermarket’s last chance and it features all kinds of impulse buys. Supermarkets know we’re a captive audience, so they squeeze in everything and anything that might grab your attention and add to the final bill.

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