Supermarket sales tricks

We unlock supermarket sales tricks and show you how to avoid spending more than you mean to.
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02.Specials and shopping trips

You’re very special

According to Dr. Harrison, no matter what we might like to think it’s human nature to be attracted to a bargain. “Although we think we know we’re being manipulated, we tend to fall for it anyway.” Even the word “special” plays on our subconscious. “Just the word sets off a psychological process in your mind where if something is labelled ‘special’ we think it must be good. It also feeds into a theory known as the scarcity effect. This is where we think that if it’s on special, then it must only be available at this shop or for a short time, and we afford it more value than the products around it.”

ShoppingTrolley_iStockThe long and the short

A classic retailing trick is to locate the milk and bread at the very back of the store (often at either end) to encourage short-term shoppers to walk right through the shop and be tempted to buy other, more expensive products along the way.

Recent research has shown it’s actually more efficient to have these products toward the front of the store, and place the other impulse products close by. “Smart supermarkets are putting a small area with a limited selection of bread and milk at the front of the shop for those shoppers whose motives won’t be modified, and then having a more extensive selection of bread and milk at the back.”

Little fill-in trips we take during the week will result in many unplanned purchases, and on average, unplanned purchases will account for a greater share of the total bill for a fill-in rather than a major trip.

Emotional and confusing

Confusion and emotional involvement will have an effect on how long a person spends in front of a particular area in the supermarket. You might find consumers spending a long time in front of the coffee selection area. Similarly, baby food and pet food purchases take longer because of emotional involvement.

Soups and dressings often involve long buy times because of the sometimes-confusing variety of options on offer. As a result, long buy-time products are placed where shoppers will not feel hurried, crowded or that they’re getting in the way of other customers while they work out what they’re going to buy. These product areas will often be clearly marked out in a separate area.

Tips to avoid overspending

Take a list People who shop with a list tend to spend less.

Use unit pricing to compare value for money, as buying in bulk is not necessarily always the cheapest option.

Shop alone People who shop as a couple tend to put more in their trolley, as each person will have their own idea about what’s important and should be purchased.

Avoid big supermarkets Don’t shop at a big supermarket if you just want to drop in and pick up a few things – you’re much better off in a small store. It takes more effort to get in and out of a big supermarket, and as a result you may feel the need to stock up once you’re in there.

Avoid the extras An example is products offering 100g extra for a little more cost. It’s an economy of scale – you don’t save money, you’ll just eat more.

Eat before you shop Don’t shop when you’re hungry – it’s a sure-fire way to end up with a trolley full of unnecessary purchases.


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