Grocery Store Psychology

If you are like most people, weekly shopping is not a well researched event and so the minute you enter a grocery store you are being led like a rat in a maze. This isn’t as bad as it sounds. Your mind isn’t being taken over by the nether forces or anything, but there is subtle manipulation going on and being aware of it can help in saving money.

Grocery Store Layout

Next time you enter a grocery store, put on your ‘psych’ hat and leave it there for the rest of the visit. This way you’ll be seeing the bigger picture and won’t be suckered into buying something you really don’t need.

Store entry next to produce – The minute you step into the store your sight is filled with neatly laid out sections of color. This is very appealing to your brain and draws you into a shopping adventure. Notice that the floral department is right next to produce with even more color. This is no accident, the store wants you to come in and stay a while.

Store entry next to the bakery and deli – Here you walk into a smell-o-vision of bakery delights and roasting chickens, getting those salivary glands going. If you’re hungry this section will surely have your hands grabbing for something, or at the very least encouraging a mental debate about it.

Some stores will have the produce and bakery/deli sections together which draws you further into the store. Again, this is no accident.

Store perimeter – The outer portions of the store are designed to lead you through the maze. Notice how you slow down and take in the end cap displays, often with items on sale. Manufacturers pay top dollar for this space. Be careful of signs like “10 for $10!” If you’re not careful, you’ll spend $10 instead of $1. Are you really saving money buying ten of something?

Sample stations, the coffee bar, ATMs and the pharmacy are usually on the perimeters and serve as one-stop-shop conveniences as you’re moving through the maze. And, it’s so handy you’ll be back!

The back of the store – is typically the meat and dairy area. It’s a strategic part of the maze. Most people will need something from this area on any trip and you are forced to go deep into store territory to get there. On the way, you might see something you must have no matter what aisle you go down.

Frozen foods- are normally in the center of the store. These are the store’s highest profit items and being in the center, they’re kind of hard to miss.

Shelf Psychology

Top shelf – This shelf carries lesser-known or regional brands and gourmet selections.

Eye level shelf – This is premium space that manufactures pay to be on. You’ll find the best-selling and leading brands here and many people will look no further.

Kid’s eye level shelf- This is the kid appeal product shelf which includes sugary cereals. This is not a nice tactic.

Bottom shelf – Private store label brands and bulk items are on the bottom shelf. Brand name manufacturers also make store label brands and they are often quite a bit cheaper, so it pays to give this shelf some attention. Maybe bring some knee pads on shopping trips?

Money Saving Tips

Research your weekly shopping. Know what’s on sale before you go and how many of anything you will buy. Make a specific list and stick to your budget. Instead of being led through a maze, you can enjoy your shopping trip knowing you are outwitting the marketing geniuses that created it.