You vs. the grocery store

Friday, July 13, 2018 8:47 PM

Your grocery store and the brands it sells are out to shape your behavior, to pull as many dollars out of your pocket as possible.

Yes, much of what retail marketers do increases the pleasure of our shopping experience. A good thing. But because we make frequent trips to the supermarket, overspending can cost you thousands of dollars a year. Not good.

Let the battle begin!

Here are some of the ways grocery store marketers attempt to influence your buying behavior:

Flowers, fruit and bakery items in the front of the store offer bright colors and welcoming sights that make us feel like a guest, lower our guard and spend more.The color of products and signs influence perception and buying. As many as 90 percent of us decide on a product in 90 seconds or less just based on color.The smell of fresh bread and prepared foods trigger hunger at prime shopping times, such as after work.Eating samples engages our taste, hunger and reciprocity. When we are given something, we are more likely to return the favor by making a purchase.Music with a slower tempo can cause shoppers to unconsciously linger to buy more.“Eye level is buy level.” More expensive products are at adult eye level, while store brands are placed higher or lower. Kids’ cereal is on the bottom shelf – kids’ eye level.Dairy and eggs are placed at the back of the store to make us run the grocery store gauntlet when all we need is a gallon of milk.Impulse items are placed by the register. Willpower is like a muscle. After saying “no” to all of those other treats, we often say “yes” when we check out.Shopping carts: Oversized carts look empty when they’re not, and small carts with wheels allow us to shop more without the burden of a heavy basket.Coupons: They may lead us to buy items we don’t need or to ignore a sale on a comparable product that would be less expensive.10 for $10 sales. Did you really need 10 cans of black beans?Large package sizes or bulk may not be the bargain you think.Signs advertising sales may draw you in to buy a more expensive brand.Prices that end in .99 play on the left-digit effect, where our brains focus on the first number. Here’s how you can fight back:

Be aware that people are working to get you to spend more.Use a budget.Plan your meals for the week.Make a grocery list.Compare prices by the ounce.Pay with cash.Don’t shop when hungry.Using these seven strategies can help you overcome most of the retail marketers’ tricks.

Good luck!

Durango resident and personal finance coach Matt Kelly owns Momentum: Personal Finance.