Shopping for groceries is a necessary part of our household chores. However, 53 percent of grocery store shoppers admit that they hate to shop. I am in the minority on this statistic since I enjoy grocery shopping. I’m somewhat of a foodie. I love to cook and am a careful shopper. But that doesn’t protect me from sometimes having sticker shock when I hit the checkout counter.
The grocery store is carefully laid out to help you buy the products you need each week and to buy a few extra items. Knowing why the marketing gurus laid it out this way will help you save money when doing your weekly shopping.
The highest-priced products are at eye level. This is a matter of drawing your attention to what looks beautiful on the shelf. That’s why the companies invest so much money in package design. Think through the baking aisle. Cake mixes are at eye level, however, sugar and flour are at the bottom where you have to bend over to pick them up. The same goes for convenience foods. Rice mixes are at eye level and the bags of plain rice are at about hip level. The marketing guys are hoping you will pick up the mixes at a higher price and will pass over the staples.
Walk right past the end-of-aisle displays. We’ve become accustomed to this being the place for special prices. Simply moving a product to the end-of-row display will make us think it is a special price and encourage us to buy. That’s one of the ways stores encourage you to buy slow-selling products. In addition, these displays separate items from like products so it is more difficult to compare prices.
Products are grouped to encourage impulse buys. Angel food cake and whipped cream are displayed next to the strawberries. Dips are in a special rack next to the chips. Your brain makes the connection that these two things would be great together. I’ve been really interested in the local stores that have taken chicken from the deli and are displaying it next to salad fixings. Convenient, yes, but there is also a subliminal message that chicken would certainly be good on our salads.
The places we slow down when pushing our carts in the store have the most tempting products. The end of the aisle has lots of real estate to fill up with a product that is visible for a longer length of time. Think about how the checkout counters are arranged. This is their last chance to encourage impulse buys.
There are tables and displays in the deli area with cheeses. Concentrate on selecting the special variety of cheeses in that section and buy the more mundane varieties in the dairy section for a lower price.
Think about the overall layout of the store. Milk and other staples are at the back of the store. You have to walk past all those tempting products when just stopping for a gallon of milk. Choose to head down a less-tempting aisle when headed for the milk. Go down the cleaning aisle rather than the snacks aisle.
It goes without saying that if you head to the grocery store when you’re hungry, you’ll come out with a larger bill. So eat and drink before you hit the store.
Feeding your family well is important for their good nutrition and health. However, wise choices can help you conserve on your grocery bill.
Roxie Rodgers Dinstel is associate director of Cooperative Extension Service, a part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, working in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Questions or column requests can be e-mailed to her at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 907-474-7201.