Supermarket sales tactics

It's important to understand how supermarkets sell, sell, sell.
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  • Updated:5 Jan 2009

03.Avoiding the traps

How to avoid the supermarkets' traps

Research indicates that a sizable number of shoppers decide which supermarket they’ll shop at based on specials advertised in store catalogues. It’s not a bad shopping strategy, particularly if the specials were items you were intending to buy anyway. These are often the loss leaders noted in Setting the traps.

Our most recent Supermarket price survey (2007) confirmed this: specials made a huge difference to the cost of our basket at the big two supermarkets. Overall, ALDI was by far the best value — it's basket cost half as much on average.

Other smart shopping tips:

  • Make a shopping list — soooo boring, but it’s the key to avoiding impulse buying.
  • Meal planning also helps you focus on the things you really need — and helps to get your shopping list written.
  • Get to know your local supermarket layout well — you’ll be able to zero in on the things you really want and ignore tempting distractions. Researchers in the US found that shoppers who were unfamiliar with supermarket layout but had plenty of time had the highest rates of impulse buying. The research suggested this was because you have time to process more instore information, which promotes unplanned buying.
  • Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry, bored or depressed.
  • Unit-pricing is on it's way, but until it arrives in your store, take a calculator to make good price comparisons between different pack sizes of the same item — particularly important if something’s being promoted in an instore display that makes you think it’ll be cheaper.
  • Don’t blindly buy familiar brand names. Try ‘no-name’ and supermarket own-brands — you’ll definitely save money if you can live with any quality difference. Staples like sugar, salt and flour tend to be hard to pick from branded equivalents. And our recent report on premium own brands suggest they compare well to familiar favourites.
  • If practical, use a basket instead of a trolley, so that you can’t load up too much.
  • Supermarkets know kids make great shoppers. If you can’t go shopping without them, try and keep their minds off lollies and other temptations by keeping them occupied with learning activities like counting and identifying vegetables and fruits.

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