Supermarkets - a Study of the Mind

“I never make a trip to the United States without visiting a supermarket. To me they are more fascinating than any fashion salon” - Wallis Simpson

Classic Maze is a scientific behavioral study performed in a maze using rats as subjects. The rodent is placed at one end of the maze and is to work its way through following the scent of its beloved reward. . . cheese. The study is done several times over while scientist compile data and note the rat's ability to figure out the maze trail faster with fewer errors. This is done to gauge the subjects learning curve.

Supermarket retail is a $500 million dollar a year industry. Its not enough that they are a necessary evil, but in order to increase their bottom line this industry spends millions on just this type of study.

“I miss Saturday morning, rolling out of bed, not shaving, getting into my car with my girls, driving to the supermarket,

squeezing the fruit, getting my car washed, taking walks". President Barack Obama

In much the same way your friendly neighborhood supermarket franchise tests the intelligence or, lack thereof, of consumers. Mankind has four staples that are must haves; bread, milk, butter and eggs. Ever notice that most, if not all, of the aforementioned items are usually placed at the back of the store or on the outer periphery of the isles at the end toward the back? In this way you, the rat, must saunter down the entire length of the store to get to your staples. The grocer hopes that being the silly little rodents that we are, during this journey we will become distracted and lost in his never-ending maze. Eventually packing our shopping carts with way more than we intended to purchase.

Supermarkets are carefully structured to lure and engage consumer guinea pigs. Fronting the store to attack the senses of unaware consumers. You don’t even have to open the door it automatically glides open at the touch of your foot.

Forget about being world famous, it's hard enough just getting the automatic doors at the supermarket to acknowledge our existence. Doug Coupland

Upon entering the optic, nasal and oral senses are immediately alerted. The smell of fresh brewed coffee and newly baked breads. Bright, shiny vegetables and fruits opulently stacked combined with the periodic soothing sound of misting water over the produce triggers an unwarranted sense of comfort. Succulent chickens slowly turning on a rotisserie. All in an effort to lure you, the shopper, from his or her original purpose.

Loyalty reward cards, video monitoring, heat maps that track your location. A new device has been tested by Stop and Shop. It’s called a Scan-it a hand held tool used by the consumer that is connected directly to your reward or loyalty card. It tracks not only your purchases, but your every move in the store. Yeah your getting a savings using those neat little cards, but the supermarket chain is also tracking shopper's habits. Believe me the data gathered is for more than offering coupons, but monitoring spending habits of the many.

Supermarket Shopper Poll

How many times have you over spent at a Supermarket in 2011?

See results without voting

“A person buying ordinary products in a supermarket is in touch with his deepest emotions” John Kenneth Galbraith

Hopefully these tips will assist my fellow shoppers to stay the course:

1. Do not shop hungry . . big big mistake, guaranteed to over shop when the consumer has but one thing on their mind. . .food!

2. Do not bring children . . not only can they be distracting, but some may cajole parents into purchasing items not intended. Gather with some of your friends, co-workers or neighbors and maybe do trade off days. While one shops the other volunteers to take care of the children. Not only will you stay focused, but might get in a little “me” time.

3. Make a list . . check it twice and stick to it! Oh yeah and remember to bring it with you.

4. Coupons . . and the same applies here remember to bring them with you. They don’t do a lot of good left on the dining room table. I am a Kroger/Smith shopper and the fresh value system allows you to download coupons right to the rewards card. Fast and easy, no cutting, sorting, forgetting or using expired coupons.

5. Choose smaller shopping carts, hand carries or neither. Experiments have been done doubling the size of the shopping carts, and folks actually purchased 40% percent more. So don’t think Costco and other market chains are so concerned about the consumer having a place to put all their “stuff” while cruising up and down isles. Their hoping you’ll purchase more.

6. Check out the isle more than at eye level. Millions of hours and dollars have been spent by the supermarket industry on the study of product placement. It has been determined that products placed at eye level are chosen five times out of ten over other brands on the same isle at lower levels. Almost counting on consumers too lazy to squat or bend down to compare products that are just as good, but at a better price.

7. Try bringing cash on your shopping trips instead of using your credit or debit cards. Its all to easy to over spend when you have your entire bank account in the palm of your hand. Yes I know that there are banks and ATM’s at grocery locations, but the trip to the machine or bank may give one time to pause and think . . do I really need to withdraw more money?

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Comments 2 comments

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pmccray 5 years ago from Utah Author

Thank you Kittythedreamer for taking the time to read and comment.

kittythedreamer profile image

kittythedreamer 5 years ago from the Ether

Great tips for grocery shopping...especially the don't shop hungry rule. Every time I do that, I spend WAY too much money in the store. Voted up and useful.

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