There is A LOT of marketing that goes into grocery stores! See how to reduce your spend while learning the tricks Supermarkets use to get you to buy more (as told by a Marketer). Share this article with everyone you know to help reduce your grocery bill after college!

How to Reduce Your Grocery Bill By Avoiding Marketing Gimmicks

Grocery stores and supermarkets spend millions of dollars every year on research and customer purchasing patterns in order to increase the amount the customer spends. Being a marketer myself, I have learned a lot about these tricks grocery stores implement. In order to grocery shop smart, here are ten tips you can use to avoid grocery store gimmicks.

1. Shop Counter-Clockwise

Have you noticed how most grocery stores are set up for you to shop in a clock-wise fashion? This is to control the order of your purchases. Just like at a buffet, the cheapest, most filling items are up front and the expensive items are at the end. They are purposefully in this order. In this same way, studies have shown that this store layout has a greater chance of increasing the amount you spend. It may feel weird, but try shopping in a counter-clockwise fashion instead.

2. Hand-Written Signs Don’t Mean It’s On Sale

Have you ever walked into a Trader Joe’s and had the urge to buy almost everything because everything seems so cheap? This is because all of Trader Joe’s prices are hand-written. These hand-written prices cause us to think something is on sale. While it may be the case sometimes, many grocery stores take advantage of this. A grocery store tested a hand-written sign to sell regular-priced produce. The produce with the hand written-sign sold a lot more than with a printed sign.

3. Avoid Impulse Purchases at the Entrance

Most supermarkets entice customers by placing flowers and fruit at the entrance of their stores. The color and smell causes customers (who weren’t planning on purchasing these items) to add a few to their cart. It is also used to place customers in the “right” buying mindset.

4. Don’t Get Influenced by the Supermarket Layout

Notice how most of the staple items you need are on the outer border of a supermarket? Most impulse purchase items are placed in the middle of the store. This is done to get the customer to have to walk past the items in the middle in order to get to what they need on the opposite side of the store (and possibly picking up a few extra things on the way).

5. Avoid Impulse Purchases in Your Way

Supermarkets tend to stick items into the normal flow of traffic to get you to have to maneuver around them. This include those little item stands that stick out of the aisle to get your attention. Studies have shown that an increased number of “obstacles” in the store increases the grocery bill.

6. Shop for Items Above or Below Your Eye Level

Expensive items in supermarket aisles are purposefully placed at eye-level to get your attention. In addition, kids’ items are always placed at a child’s eye level.

7. Grab the Item to Your Right

When similar items of different brands are placed together (i.e. a branded item next to the generic store version), the cheaper item is always placed on the right. This is because people tend to read from the left to the right. Eye-tracking studies show that this practice occurs in supermarkets as well: customers always look at items on the left first.

8. Avoid Prepared/Convenience Foods

Pre-packaged salads, pre-cut fruit, and grated cheese are usually priced at twice the regular item. It’s a lot cheaper to grate the cheese or cut the fruit yourself (and it’s also more hygienic as studies have shown that these prepared foods are the greatest carriers of food-borne illness).

9. Compare the Unit Price to Avoid Marketing Jargon

Marketing terms and fancy wording can easily throw off customers. This is done to make it a lot harder to compare items. Use the unit price to compare costs.

10. Avoid Products that Force You to Use a Fixed Quantity

Most items that force you to use a specific quantity (i.e. Tide Pods, automatic dish soap dispenser, shampoo pumps) actually make you use a lot more than what you would normally use (and thus, make you run out faster). The funny thing is that these items cost more too! Take back your freedom and avoid these items!

Grocery Shopping Smart

How to Be Valued Vs Your Salary Of course, this is only scratching the surface of all of the tricks supermarkets use (we haven’t even gone into music, lighting, etc.). The next time you go shopping for food, instead of getting angry, feel smart that you out-witted the grocery store’s marketing tactics. When I learned about these in school, I actually had a new-found respect for grocery stores – they’re a lot smarter than I had originally thought!

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