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Supermarket Savvy – What They Do to Make You Buy

by Colleen P Moyne (Colmo) (follow)
I'm a freelance writer living in the beautiful river town of Mannum in SA, dreaming of the day I can retire from the 9-5 to write full time.
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Shopping Trolley with Discounts
Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / Freedigitalphotos.net

We know that supermarkets put a lot of research into their marketing tactics, but just how far do they go? You may be surprised.

From the moment we enter the store we are being wooed into parting with our money. We are guided almost unknowingly around the store and tempted in ways that border on pure genius.

Here are a few of their tricks:

Creating an impression of freshness – Supermarkets use lighting, colour, graphics, and even smells to imply that their goods are fresh. The wafting scent from the bakery draws us over, the freshly misted apples give that ‘just picked’ look, the lighting over the meat section gives a rich redness to the lamb chops and the carefully devised layouts stimulate the senses with colour. The width of the aisles and the choice of music are designed to encourage us to wander and take our time.

Shopping Trolley with Discounts
Image courtesy of Pixomar / Freedigitalphotos.net

Product Placement – Supermarkets will place the goods they want you to buy right at eye-level. If you take the time to look higher or lower you might find some great bargains. They also place the most commonly needed items – like bread and milk at the back of the store so that you have to walk through the aisles to get them. They will occasionally re-arrange the shelves so that you will have to go looking for particular products. And have you noticed that the products that appeal to children are placed just at the right height to catch their eye? This is also the reason that sweets are placed near the checkout.

Shopping Trolley with Discounts
Image courtesy of Stockimages / Freedigitalphotos.net

Specials – Beware of those bright red specials tags. The store is counting on us to be drawn in by the assumption that red means cheap. The same goes for two-for-one offers. Don’t be fooled into buying something you wouldn't normally buy. Have you noticed that when hot-dogs are on special they will place the hot-dog buns and tomato sauce close by?

‘Use By’ Dates – Always check the dates on your purchases, especially the specials. As newer, fresher products come in, store owners usually put them to the back of the shelf and the not so fresh ones with shorter use-by dates to the front, hoping you will take those first. Check the back ones. You might also want to do this with things like spray cans as well (ever seen people pick up a can of air freshener and have a test-spray to see if they like the scent?)

Red Tag Sale Sign
Image courtesy of allfreedownloads.com

Loyalty or ‘Frequent Shopper’ cards – While it seems like a nice gesture on the surface to be rewarded for your loyalty, for example by receiving discounts or lucky draw entries, the stores have their own reason for doing this. The cards are used to collect data on you as a shopper that is analysed to find trends and patterns in buying. This helps them to know how many people are buying what, where there customers are coming from and how to encourage you to spend more.

Woman with Shopping Docket
Image courtesy of Ambro / Freedigitalphotos.net

Now don’t get me wrong – I say more power to ‘em for being so clever. It works for them. But we need to think about what works for us. We need to become more ‘supermarket savvy’ ourselves. Don’t let them get to you! Go armed with a shopping list and a will of steel!

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