$$ How Supermarkets trick you into spending more money $$

Dec 15, 2019
supermarket customer manipulation tricks

How supermarkets manipulate you into buying more food


Supermarkets are probably the best psychologists in the market.

They have their consumers and buyers so well figured out, they know what they are going to do before even they do it.

The psychological tricks that supermarkets pull on customers are quite clever, just like Walmart knows your sixteen-year-old daughter is pregnant, they know what day you like to shop and what specials you like to buy.

It's because of that loyalty card you have.

They can now dissect your buying habits into ones and zeros.

After implementing some great marketing to you, they know you'll be into the store so you'll get that 30 pack of diet coke that's on special (perhaps even at a loss-leading price) and whatever else takes your fancy. 

And once they have you in-store, that's when supermarkets unleash a suite of tricks and psychological ploys to get you buying more and spending more money. 

Which can be really tough when you are trying to save money on the food bill.

Supermarkets are living laboratories that study human buying behavior.

Have you ever noticed all those cameras in the modern shopping complex and asked yourself, why so many cameras?

They are not for catching shoplifters (a money-saving measure we do not recommend you try!) - the majority of them placed down the aisle are there to monitor and observe consumer traffic patterns. No doubt they will also be monitoring psychical appearance too. What body shapes are customers? What sex? Do different sexes and body shapes behave differently? When and Why? You can bet they are using this data to sell more to you. 

This is because supermarkets that understand how their customers think and make purchasing decisions are able to plan the shopfloor layout more efficiently.

The classic example of this is supermarkets know that people will often tend to enter the store with a set mental list of what they want and it's usually the basics like bread and milk.

And that's exactly why eggs, dairy & milk, and bread are often positioned farthest from the store's entrance as possible so you walk all the way past other attractive food items. Indeed, eggs can be placed in random places to encourage you to walk around looking for them!

Vegetables and fruit are placed at the entrance as your first port of call - because you're more inclined to pick more items at the start of your shopping experience. And you're buying 'healthy'. Which transfixes your state of mind.

You are also being brutally bombarded with colors and smells. 

The bakery is usually right next to the vegetable section because the bread smells nice. Fruit displays are often backed against mirrors to add volume and light vibrancy to the fruit. The supermarket is said to you, hey, this is a great place to shop!

Note when we say bakery, this does not include loaves of bread, other than specialty items. No, your standard sliced loaf of bread will be far away from the vegetables.

The supermarkets are hoping that you will feel a little bit smug about all the healthy food that you put in your shopping trolley that'll you'll consider that enough of a reason to buy some biscuits or other junk type food.

So how does this affect you, the dollar saver? 

Forget the shop layout, you're already a modest mouse caught in that well-planned wheel, look at the shelf layout (whilst staying true to your shopping list of course).

Your eyes will naturally gravitate to the product that's in your eye line at face level and that's where the priciest groceries are positioned.

Would it surprise you to learn that some brands will often pay for the privilege of having their goods and wares placed directly in the customer's eye line.

It is often described as a 'slotting fee'.

Supermarkets will also put kid-friendly things at their eye level.

That's some real cunning right there.

So, using this knowledge, if you, the earnest shopper are seeking out cheaper brands or generic items to save money, look on the bottom or lower shelves and the top!

Another classic trick is to put goods that could be bought as 'impulse purchases' by the checkout lanes.

Lollies, magazines, hand size deodorant, magazines, chocolate and the classic 'chewing gum' - these impulse items are placed there so you will add a couple of extra bucks to your shopping bill. Now if even one in ten or twenty customers does this, those sales will add up for the Supermarket Owners.

To be fair some product placements will benefit the customer, such as peanut butter next to the jelly. and beer next to crisps and chips ...

Watch out for pricing specials scams


Ever seen a supermarket market pricing sticker with the words 'best buy' or 'great deal'? Is it? How do you know it's a great deal? Is there actually a price saving on offer or has the item simply had some puffery on the sticker placed next to it?

Three for a dollar each when the single item is also a dollar?

How could you live with yourself for falling for such a deal?

Well, people do and that's why supermarkets will keep advertising this way in-store.

Other tricks supermarkets do:


  • Larger shopping trolleys tend to be filled up more
  • They play slow music so your walking around speed matches
  • The most profitable products are set at the end of the aisle.
  • Some products are sold at a loss to the store. This is so you recognize the price as being really good and it gets you into the store.  


Now you've learned about this, you know it's a shopping trap. The best advice is always to stick to buying what you need (write a list out on your cell phone!) and not what you want!

Now you've got your saving on groceries sorted, perhaps it's time to think about how to teach your kids to save money too!

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