A Few More Ways That Supermarkets Mess With Your Minds

Supermarkets are meticulously designed to get you to spend more money.

We’ve covered this beforeĀ but were fascinated nonetheless to hearĀ insights from marketing professor Paul Harrison of Deakin University on the program “Food Investigators” on the Australian channel SBS.

Some highlights:

grocery store

Photo: Grand Canyon NPS via flickr Creative Commons

The ‘Closed’ Entrance

Once you walk in many supermarkets, swing gates prevent you from walking out the same door.

“You could [go out the exit], but you’re not going to,” Dr. Harrison notes. “You’re already invested in the relationship with the supermarket.”


Photo: jonwick04 via flickr Creative Commons

Fruits and Veggies First

Grocery stores display fruits and vegetables so that they catch the viewer’s eye as soon as they enter the store. The natural imagery, fresh scents, and brights colours inspire a positive and happy mental state in shoppers.

Dr. Harrison explains that after seeing the fruit, “we’re in a good mood; the place is fresh, the place is good [so we can] begin the journey.”

Grocery shop

Photo: Doug Wilson

Product Placement

Dr. Harrison adds that it is important “from the supermarket’s perspective to get people away from the edges and draw them into the centre if they’re buying particular products.”

Particular products are ones like cereal and coffee which require shoppers to choose between a variety of brands. These products are placed away from high traffic areas in case shoppers really need to stop and think about it.

grocery store


The Funnel

Grocery stores use aisles as “psychological funnels,” preparing shoppers for what is at the end. The ends are used to signal products that are particularly “important” or “interesting.”

According to Dr. Harrison, “they’re signaling to you that these [brands at the end of the aisle] are important, interesting things.”

These are almost always well-known brands. Bigger companies pay “slotting fees,” some of which can reach up to $1 million, in order to get their products placed at the edge of the store.

Want more? Check out 15 Ways Supermarkets Trick You Into Spending Money >

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