The Psychology Behind Grocery Shopping

For many first year students, this year might be the first year that your parents aren’t responsible for grocery shopping anymore. If you don’t have a meal plan with the school it’s time to learn the do’s and don’ts of the grocery store! As it’s near the end of the year, chances are you have already gone for your first trip. Did you go thinking you would only spend $20, then $60 later you’re wondering where you went wrong? Grocery stores have years of psychology on their side. From the way they’re laid out, to the products they sell, the first step you take is already designed against you to ensure you spend more than originally anticipated.

Here are 10 ways that grocery stores use psychology to encourage you to spend more:

  1. Flowers! You might have noticed that often the first thing you will encounter walking in to any grocery store is flowers and fresh produce. This strategy helps stimulate the customers senses, psychologically encouraging you to buy more
  2. The Music! The music played is played with purpose. Often it will be slower paced music that encourages shoppers to feel more relaxed so they can spend more time in the store exposed to possible future expenses.
  3. Exits! The back of a shopping market may not be the best place to be in the event of a fire. Why? – There are no immediately available exits. The layout is designed to ensure that you spend as much time exposed to products as possible. This means having to go all the way back to the start often in order to find an exit.
  4. Staples! IT’S ALL ABOUT THE EXPOSURE. That means that the staples (including bread, milk, and eggs) are kept near the back of the store. This means that even if you are just there for a loaf of bread, you will need to walk past everything else in order to get it.
  5. The Ring of Money! Ever notice how often everything you need will tend to be around the outside of the store? It’s a well thought out strategy that ensures you basically have to circle the entire store to find everything. While making that circle around the store, shoppers are exposed to the ends of every aisle. This tends to be where the store puts the more expensive items in the aisle, hoping they grab your attention.
  6. Eye Level! When you walk through a grocery store obviously the first thing you see will tend to be at your eye-level. This is where the most expensive products will be to greet you.
  7. Kids! Psychology spares no one! Stores are even designed to grab children’s attention. This is why children’s products will be on lower shelves, ensuring kids can see them. After all, who can say no to a cute kid, right?
  8. Shopping Carts! Wonder why it’s so much easier to find a shopping cart instead of a basket? A shopping cart can carry a lot where baskets may only be able to carry a smaller amount, which may encourage shopping to stop after it is filled up.
  9. Colours! Even colours are used to trick our minds! Which is why stores use the colour red on sale signs to attract our attention.
  10. The Last Minute Plea! Nobody likes waiting in line, but at least you have all those chocolate bars to keep you company! Almost any store you find yourself in will use this tactic. You finally complete your shopping trip without any impulse buying, but are now forced to wait in line next to a bunch of candy. People will often pick up something here without thinking too hard about it.