We’re all psyched to shop at our local grocery stores. Carting cartons of milk, a dozen eggs in a plastic tray, mountains of cereal boxes stacked on top of colourful fruits and freshly butchered meat produce packed in cling wraps.
Trips to the grocery store have always been my favourite for reasons I can’t seem to explain.
It’s just fun.
It turns out that supermarkets are designed to lure us in. Every minute and significant feature of the store — from the layout of the store, shelves layout to music, lighting, and yes, even free food samples — are intended to keep us there for as long as possible, inducing us to spend money.
A One-Way Entry and Exit Path
Grocery stores facilitate entry by only having a one-way entry door or gate, and the only way for consumers to exit is to walk through the store.
Fresh Fruits and Flowers
Supermarkets are filled with tempting displays of products from the start to the cashier point. Colourful fruits like apples, luscious raspberries, and juicy pears are placed after the one-way front door. These are what advertisers call “symbolics” that make use of textures, scents, and colours to tap into our sensories, making us feel upbeat and hungry at the same time.
Similarly, flowers with its buckets of sunflowers, tulips and roses are placed near the entrance. Freshly cut flowers and fruits remind us of the concept of freshness and signal that the store is welcoming, natural and fragrant.
As opposed to a grocery store that displays canned tuna and days-old flowers, we would have turned around and head to another supermarket that is more pleasant to patronise.
Lightings on Set
In Martin Lindstrom’s book, Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy; the author discussed that lighting plays a vital role in making the vegetables and fruits appear the brightest and at their best.
Produce bins are also given periodic sprays of freshwater to provide the fresh food with a dewy look as you’d have seen from TV commercials of a farmer handpicking the brightest, roundest, juiciest orange from his plantation. Like magic performance, the douse of water is just for show.
Turning Fruits into Art
Lindstrom also pointed out that bananas are most susceptible to manipulate consumers’ perceptions of freshness. Pantone colour 13–0858 (also known as Vibrant Yellow) are less likely to sell than bananas with a shade warmer using Pantone colour 12–0752 (also called Buttercup).
The difference in shades implies ripeness and hence, a ready-to-consume banana as compared to one that isn’t riped.
Companies like Dole, a renowned banana grower, study what effects do varieties of colour have on its sales volume. In turn, this allows them to plant their banana crops under environmental conditions most suited in creating the right shade of yellow.
Tactical Store Layout
As mentioned earlier, grocery stores are designed to keep us there for as long as possible, but how?
On a macro level, supermarkets usually place the Diary section further away from the entrance, making sure that customers walk through aisles of tempting products on shelving displays before reaching the pitstop to get their eggs, milk, cheese and yoghurt.
Popular items are located in aisles in the middle of the store’s layout, thereby increasing the chance for buyers to be distracted by an endless selection of product alternatives.
Background Music as a Culprit
A study conducted in 1982 found that music being played in grocery stores causes supermarket buyers to spend 34% more time shopping, corresponding to an increase in sales as well.
In short, music encourages us to dawdle in supermarkets more than we realise.
The Secret Behind Product Shelving
In my Marketing class that I took at my University, we learned that there were precisions to the way products are displayed on the supermarkets’ shelves.
Most expensive items or popular brands are placed conveniently at eye level, while other lesser-known brands are placed on lower shelves. The explanation behind this strategy is to make it easier for you to reach — from your shoulders — when products are positioned at eye level as compared to the hassle of getting you to crouch down.
Companies pay high prices to display their products at eye level since those are hot spots for impulse buying to occur.
The next time you go grocery shopping, understand what is essential to buy and what isn’t. In any way, for the better or worse, supermarket retailers are good at priming and seducing us to make more than necessary purchases.
Thank you for reading!