9 techniques that supermarkets use to make us spend more

There is a reason why we often recommend that you prepare your shopping list before each trip to the supermarket.

Each square meter of medium and large areas, from parking to receipt, is designed to make you spend more money and buy more than you need.

We all knew this scenario: having to go quickly to the supermarket for a brick of milk … and leave with crisps, breakfast cereals (they were on sale!), Two steaks, Apéricubes and a pack of chewing gum. And even if we try to convince ourselves then that these purchases will be useful in the end, remains that they were not planned. Which means that the supermarket has been successful in getting you to open your wallet.

Even if one would think that large stores are built only simple shelves in a large warehouse, they are actually very carefully designed. Every detail, from the music to the precise location of the products, is specifically chosen to encourage us to spend more.

To become truly responsible for your expenses and save money the next time you go to the supermarket, check out these tips that superstores use to make us always spend more.

Play with your senses

Contrary to what one might think, the visual aspect is not the only one of our senses that supermarkets use to encourage us to open our wallet.

Most superstores actually play with our 5 senses throughout our in-store journey.

The smell of bread and pastries from the bakery (my personal weakness is the sausage …), the colors of the fruit & vegetable department, the carefully selected music … Everything is articulated to create the most favorable atmosphere for consumption.

Moreover, the way in which supermarkets are lit is also nothing to chance.

Most of them highlight a “theater” lighting, that is to say, that light is put at the service of the accentuation of certain products to attract your attention and to highlight offers and objects.

The colors can also vary according to what is put forward: the lighting above the fish will often be slightly bluish to give an impression of freshness, while the light of the fruits and vegetables makes it possible to put the colors forward in the making more vivid.

Make comparisons impossible

Shopping is rarely a pleasure. This means that often, when fatigue sets in, we can quickly tend to choose the first item that comes to hand without thinking, rather than taking the time to compare prices.

This is also why supermarkets make a comparison between products particularly difficult. This is particularly the case with fresh products such as fruits and vegetables – you will find packaged cucumbers charged per kilo, loose cucumbers at the price per piece … and not necessarily placed next to each other.

Make sure to spend some time calculating and comparing prices before buying. If the task of the races is really a chore for you or you are too busy with the weather, choose to do your shopping online or via a Drive. You can more easily compare prices, and even sort and filter your basket.

Give the impression that lots are always good deals

Supermarkets offer more and more large volumes for sale. And they managed to make us believe that the purchase of lots and family formats or XXL systematically save money.

For example, following this logic, buying a big pot of cream would be more interesting than taking two small ones. This myth is wrong for two reasons:

  • Sometimes, the price per kilo is cheaper on small units than on lots and large volumes. We must always check systematically, even for all that is displayed “promo”
  • Even when a lot or large volume is cheaper per kilogram, if it is food that you will not consume and then discard, you do not save money. You just throw money out the windows. And in addition to losing money, you contribute to food waste. Take the time to compare the price, and buy only what you need.

Offer large baskets and trolleys

In many supermarkets, the size of baskets and trolleys has increased in recent years. And it’s far from a coincidence. The bigger the basket, the more you tend to consume.

First, by having a cart or giant cart, you can buy many more products before reaching the psychological limit of the “full shopping cart” which tells you that it is surely time to stop.

And conversely, a half-empty basket also gives the impression that your egg box and your bottle of milk feel terribly alone; “Take the opportunity to take something else” .

If you have to go to the express supermarket just for a few items, do not take a basket. Buy only what you can wear with both hands. And if you go there for your weekly causes, prefer as much as possible the basket to the caddy.

The “endowment effect”

The endowment effect, or ”  endowment effect  ” in English, is a phenomenon in which we tend to value a good or service much more when it belongs to us.

And to play with this endowment effect, marketers make sure the items are highlighted so you can imagine that you already own the product, and what your life might look like if you had it.

For example, we do not touch vegetables only to know if they are fresh: taking them in hand also has a psychological effect. Ditto also for posters of rosé wine in summer, which features a group of friends sipping their drink on the beach. You imagine owning a product increases the chances that you buy it.

To avoid this trap, stick to your shopping list. You will be less likely to be distracted.

Strategically place some products side-by-side

As with everything else, the location of products in supermarkets is not a matter of chance. Supermarkets voluntarily place certain products side-by-side in order to encourage you to buy more.

Some combinations are “obvious”, like wine and biscuits appetizer. Or soups and croutons. But even if we can also say that it is more convenient to put them side by side, it remains a strategic choice … And they are also often put forward in a (very) obvious way. This means that even if you do not buy at the base, you can easily indulge.

Hide some products for you to browse a maximum of rays

It is no coincidence that commodities such as milk, bread, and eggs are almost always placed away from entry into a completely random radius.

Because it’s better for supermarkets to make sure you have to go past hundreds of other products and departments to access them … and potentially succumb to something else on the way.

The solution here is also to stay focused on your list and what you need, and nothing more. Spending even 15 € per week in impulse purchases is more than 750 € per year, which you would have probably preferred to spend otherwise …

Bet everything on the site

One of the most popular strategies for spending money at the supermarket is to place items on the shelves at the highest margin at the eye level, or slightly below.

Less profitable (and often cheaper) items and cheap supermarket brand food will, therefore, be positioned much higher than eye level, or much lower.

It is also known that some supermarket chains charge suppliers a “premium” price to expose their merchandise to more attractive store locations.

To avoid being swayed, be as precise as possible in your shopping list. If you do not need a specific brand but the private label is enough for you, write it down.

Encourage you to take extra items once at the checkout

The most obvious place used by stores to induce unexpected expenses is cash.

Between chewing gum, candies, cold drinks and flashy magazines, chances are you’ll be tempted once your (grueling) shopping session is over.

Another way to tempt you is thanks to the so-called ” lazy” tax   : if you are thirsty once your shopping is over, between picking up a bottle of 50cl of Coke in the refrigerated clothes placed in the crate or doing everything again the turn of the store to buy a version 2L twice cheaper (and much bigger), the chances are great that you crack.

That’s why you should avoid doing the shopping on an empty stomach, or when you’re particularly tired. You will be less likely to throw yourself on the comforting treats near the crates.


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