WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Tricks Supermarkets Use to Get You To Spend More Money

Posted May 13, 2016

Grocery store

I think we have all experienced some (if not all) of these methods to try to get us to spend as much as possible while grocery shopping.

Have you seen any other clever marketing techniques to get you to part with your hard earned money?

My thanks to Gary with for sharing this interesting article by Laura Foor. You'll find even more solid frugal living advice on Gary's website,

Tricks Supermarkets Use to Get You To Spend More Money

What is it that makes it so hard for us to stick to buying only what's on our preplanned shopping list? Would you feel better if you knew it wasn't all your fault? It's not.

If you're someone who constantly wonders how you almost always end up spending more on groceries than your current food budget allows, understanding the tricks supermarkets use to get you to spend more will help you stay within your shopping budget.

Grocery Store Atmosphere

Yes, your local supermarket has an atmosphere. It's not just a place where people go to buy their food. It's an experience. The big chains do their research, and that's how they know the best way to get you to spend more is to capitalize on your senses. Thus, one of the most used tricks supermarkets use to get you to spend more money is to create and release pleasant smells, which are known to put you in a better mood. This is done because studies show people tend to spend more money when they're in a good mood.

And why are everyday essentials located in the back of the store? Unfortunately, it's not so you can get your 10,000 steps in for the day. They do it so you have to walk through the store, hoping you'll see something else to buy.

Your Senses

So now we know supermarkets use smells to get you to hand over more cash. Flowers and baked goodies are the two more common smells released. These well placed happy smells activate your salivary glands.

Listening to the slower paced music they play keeps you walking at a pace just right for seeing everything in the aisles. Of course, the music chosen is easy to sing along with to help put you in a good mood.

Visually, they use bright colors to catch your eye and promote a positive atmosphere. And positivity promotes good feelings, which puts you in a better mood. You get the picture. Did you know that we're naturally drawn to the color red, which also is an appetite stimulator? Two birds, one stone!

New rubber based floors are now being used that vibrate the shopping cart handle just enough to keep your mind from drifting away. And lastly, free food samples tempt your taste buds into buying whatever is being promoted on any particular day.

Promo Tricks

Everyone loves getting a good deal, but how good are they really? Just because the sign says "Buy 5, Get 5," it doesn't always mean you're getting the best deal. Be sure to check the expiration dates as this may be the reason why they're offering these seemingly great deals. And please don't trust those handwritten chalkboard signs, even though they convey an innocent country charm. Remember that profit seeking stores dictate what's written on ........ Head to for the rest of the article.


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  • jbpersson May 15, 2016

    I lived about 30 minutes from there and that was one of our 'local attractions' when family came to visit.

  • jdouglas13 May 13, 2016

    It really was fun. I think they even had a bit of a petting zoo from time to time, and employees dressed up as critters as well. The first thing you saw when you walked in the door was the in-store bakery ovens on the right (all behind glass of course so you could get a great view and all the wonderful smells) and a old-timey popcorn machine on the left where they sold huge 3 gallon bags of popcorn.

    Meant to say I tend to remember what I *forgot* within the first 10 minutes after leaving the store.

  • Faye Prosser -WRAL Smart Shopper May 13, 2016

    jdouglas13 - it sounds like their marketing strategy was really fun! Singing farm animals and ice cream cones would be hard to pass up. :-)

  • jdouglas13 May 13, 2016

    When we lived back up North, we used to go to a grocery store called Stew Leonards

    Anyone who has been there knows exactly what I'm talking about. They had grocery store psychology down to an art form. The store was part food, part entertainment, and part self-guided tour. There were no aisles or shortcuts. Just one long path from beginning to end decorated with these huge mechanical characters like farm animals that sang and stuff, with no way to bypass anything they were selling. At the end, just outside, they sold huge ice cones -- the old frozen custard type -- as a reward for your shopping and, I think, to give you a second to think if you had forgotten anything. I know I always remember what I got within the first 10 minutes out of the store.

    It has to be close to 20 years since I've been to Stew Leonards, and I still miss it. It really made shopping fun.