How many times has this happened to you….
You’re unpacking your grocery bags and realize you’ve brought home lots of items you really didn’t need and perhaps even forgot some of those you meant to purchase?
It’s a common occurrence for most people, with those brightly colored packages and enticing smells, like fresh baking bread, luring even the most well-intentioned into buying them.
Those huge stores, with a seemingly endless number of aisles, seem to suck customers in, drowning in the dizzying array of choices that can cause utter confusion.
If you think they weren’t really designed to make you feel that way, think again.
Grocery stores are created in this fashion to help maximize their dollar by capitalizing on those feelings, particularly during high-traffic times.
It isn’t a coincidence that those heavenly aromas are the strongest during prime shopping hours – the smells actually activate salivary glands, which make customers less discerning, and more likely to buy more than they really needed.
Food manufacturers spend millions every year on things like displays, shelf placement and packaging in an effort to sell more and more.
Items placed on the shelves are planned out carefully, with the most expensive right at eye level.
They even study the behavior of buyers, and re-organize a store based on perceived habits.
For example, those tasty treats at the end of an aisle might look like a great deal, but they’re likely the result of product placement.
The company that produces them paid for that little slice of real estate. Other than the checkout counter, most impulse buys occur at endcaps like this.
Grocery stores also make sure there is no reference to the outside world, which is why they rarely have window or noticeable clocks. That way customers can easily lose track of time, enjoying shopping at a more relaxed pace, buying as much as a third more than they would otherwise.
They also provide larger shopping carts than ever before. Why? Doubling the cart space leads to customers buying nearly 20 percent more products than they would have using a standard cart.
From the moment you step through that door, your route has been essentially mapped out for you.
For example, if you go in for a few basic essentials like eggs, butter and milk, you’ll notice that all of these items are almost always at the back of the store, the furthest from the entrance you can possibly get.
Naturally, you’ll have to pass all of those enticing items along the way.
And, many of those items are marketed in a way that’s extremely deceptive too. More and more brands are trying to appear “natural,” a label which really has no tangible meaning, to pretty earth-tone packaging and the farm landscapes that are printed on them.
Food manufacturers do anything they can to have their products associated with organic, fresh and local, etc. but often times the phrases they use are false.
For example, companies can label their eggs “free-range,” even though there are no government-regulated standards for them. That means the chickens that produced them may have spent most of their time in a very cramped area, going out into the sun for just a few minutes each day.
So what can a savvy consumer do?
- Remember to always check ingredient labels thoroughly, instead of relying on potentially false advertising.
- Steer clear of some of the worst aisles in the store, like the snack and cereal aisles which tend to contain the most calories and sugar by weight.
- Sticking to the outer perimeter helps, as it typically contains healthier, whole food options, although these days, many stores are clued into this popular consumer trick and mix-in less healthy items too.
- Avoid purchasing packaged foods that contain more than five ingredients and never buy an item just because it has a fancy, attractive package.
- Finally, never shop when you’re hungry!
Now that you’re armed with this knowledge, you’ll have a much better chance at navigating the grocery store without being suckered in to spending unwisely – and causing damage to your health and waistline.
Yours in Health,