The Psychology Behind Surviving the Supermarket
- 1 Minute Read
- Aug 12, 2010
The Psychology Behind Surviving the Supermarket Supermarkets are sneaky. They are laid out in ways that encourage people to spend more money and impulsively buy more food than they need. The first line of defense in eating right is to simply not bring unhealthy foods into your home, but it's not always...
Supermarkets are sneaky. They are laid out in ways that encourage people to spend more money and impulsively buy more food than they need. The first line of defense in eating right is to simply not bring unhealthy foods into your home, but it's not always that easy when you're trying to stock up on your groceries at the end of long day or while your three-year-old is throwing things in your shopping cart when you're not looking.
So here's a rundown of what to watch out for while wheeling your shopping cart through the supermarket and how you can protect yourself from getting carried away in a world of unhealthy snacks.
Supermarkets are designed with the help of psychologists and marketing experts. Everything placed on those shelves is there for a specific reason, and the food manufacturers themselves are experts at marketing their products. They know that people are habitual shoppers, often buying the same foods and same brands every week, so they've got to have a few tricks up their sleeves to get noticed.
As most shoppers tend to shop at eye-level, some food brands pay a premium to be placed in your direct line of sight, especially on the ends of aisles (end-caps). Cheaper off-brands are stuck on bottom rows in most supermarkets. Food packaging is built on a science of colors. Red, which is the easiest color for the human eye to see, often cues specials or price cuts. Gold and yellow have been shown to promote hunger and salivation. The color blue denotes trustworthiness.
Supermarkets with in-store bakeries are meant to make shoppers hungry with the smells of fresh baked goods. Common staples like milk and eggs are often placed far away from the entrances and separated so shoppers must walk through more of the store to get to them.
Did you know that it can make a difference on how much you're likely to spend depending on which side of the store you enter upon? If you enter on the right side, you tend to shop in a counter-clockwise pattern, and shoppers who enter on the left side shop in a clockwise pattern. Studies have shown that counter-clockwise shoppers tend to spend $2 more per transaction than clockwise shoppers.
If you want to get in and get out without bringing home the box of freshly-baked cookies or sugar-laden snacks that practically fall into your carts at the end of the aisles, take time to make a thorough list and stick to it. Never shop when you're already hungry; either plan ahead or just stock a few healthy snacks in your car that you can munch on before you shop. Fresh foods are often found on the perimeter of the store, so skip "perusing" the aisles for pre-packaged, high-calorie goodies.
Some supermarkets are starting to put "micro-sections" into their store, like a health-foods section, but not every healthy food is always placed in these sections, so you may need to search out what you're looking for. Always read the labels carefully, follow your shopping list and you'll survive the temptations supermarkets are known to throw at you.