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Avoid the food matrix - shopping gone bad.

November 23, 2016

I just had a Neo moment learning about the psychology of supermarkets. If you're not aware of the tricks grocery stores play, you'll buy more & get less nutritional value.  Let's start with the ubiquitous shopping cart. Shopping carts have been around since 1937. They debuted at Humpty Dumpty in Oklahoma.  Shopping carts are getting bigger.  You'll buy more things if you have a larger shopping cart.  Studies have shown that when you double the size of the shopping cart, consumers buy 19% more things.

 

Welcome to the jungle!  

 

What do you see when you walk into your favorite supermarket?  Most supermarkets display produce at the entrance of the store.  The bright vibrant colors of fruits & vegetables put you in the right consumer mood . Flowers do the same thing.  The sweet smells of baked goods wafting into the air stimulate your appetite too.  One step into the supermarket & your salivary glands have been activated.  

 

You thought Muzak was bad.

 

When was the last time you thought about Muzak or elevator music?  It's terrible.  Right? It does serve a very effective purpose.  We shop to the rhythm of the music.  In fact "The Rhythm is Gonna Get You".  Slow music slows us down.  We relax.  We spend more time in the supermarket buying things we don't need.  I suggest wearing headphones or earmuffs. Samples are another ploy that supermarkets use to slow you down & spend more time in the supermarket.

 

Supermarkets often place end caps at the end of an aisle.  It's usually some type of seasonal (Halloween) or big event (Super Bowl) promotion. End caps jut out into the aisle, impede your movement & draw your attention.  Your impulses take over. You buy something that's not a good deal.  The same is true with eye level shopping.  You'll find most bulk and/or generic items on the low shelves.  Look high for the healthier items. Supermarkets strategically place high end items at eye level.  

 

If it it looks like a deal & it smells like a deal...

 

Buying in bulk is not always the best deal.  For example many consumers will buy 10 for $10 instead 1 for $0.89.  Sometimes individually sold fruits or vegetables are cheaper than buying the entire bag.  Make sure you look at the unit price.  

 

Studies have shown that most people only know the price of 4 supermarket items: milk, bread, bananas & eggs.  95% of people don't know the cost of everything else.  Finally if you haven't noticed, supermarket checkouts are getting smaller. The narrow checkout aisle stifles movement & make it less likely that you'll return an item.  You're also closer to items on either side of the checkout aisle.  An unanticipated impulse buy could happen. Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

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