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A Guide to Grocery Store Tricks

January 26, 2018
Plain English Version


If you own a supermarket, you want shoppers to buy as much food as you can get them to buy. If you are a shopper, the pressure to buy more food than you want begins when you walk into the store.

The Shopping Carts

 Shopping carts are getting bigger. There is a reason. The bigger the cart, the more likely you are to fill it up. Merchants know you will buy on impulse when you have room in your shopping cart.

Foods In-season

Frosted cookies in December or chocolate bunnies in April. The idea is to slow you down as you start to shop. You ask yourself. What can I buy for an upcoming holiday? The grocery store places these items around the store, so you see them as soon as you walk into the store. A few minutes later you are ready to buy.

The Produce Sections

 The produce section is at the front of the store. It is there for a reason. And it is not to make you buy more produce. It is to make you feel good about yourself. You buy fruits and vegetables. You are more likely to give in and buy less healthy foods in the rest of the store.

 Samples and Smells

Samples of food are to tempt you to buy the product. More so if they are cooking nearby. If that is not enough, stores use smells. Stores pump smells out to customers. It could be apple pie or chocolate chip cookies. They call it “scent marketing,” and it works.

Marketing to Children

The best way is to place products kids like is at the eye-level of children. Kids will nag until they get their parents to buy the less-than-healthy food. Note that more nutritious foods are higher up on the shelves.

The Checkout Aisle

Stores display items such as candy bars and chips that they want you to buy on impulse.  Parents and children will eat them on the way home.

The Good News

Stores are doing more to help shoppers. They are giving “stars” to better foods. They are using sales such as two-for-one to promote nutritious foods. And they are finding that “good value” also sells. Stores are even stocking healthy foods in their checkout lanes.


Never go to the store on an empty stomach. Being hungry while shopping usually leads to buying foods you do not need or are not healthy.

Source: The Washington Post January 9, 2018

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