Are you a budget-minded grocery shopper that always ends up with a few too many items after your shopping run? Or maybe you just can’t seem to make that grocery budget week in, week out. Paco Underhill, the author of Call of the Mall, reports that almost 2/3 of our purchases were made without the intention of actually buying it before laving home.
Grocery stores are just one of the ‘meccas’ of mass marketing, a warehouse of opportunity for branding and advertising giants to capture those sales and entice you to spend, spend, spend. If you find yourself at the mercy of your neighborhood grocery store each week, here are just seven deceptive tactics that may be triggering that spending spree:
1. Endcap specials. Some grocery stores list the ‘before’ price of items on sale, and it’s worth calculating the actual price you’re paying per serving if it’s not something you normally buy. Endcap specials at WalMart, for example, sometimes knock off only $0.30 – $0.50 of the original price. Would you buy it if it was sitting on the regular shelf at that price? In most cases, you wouldn’t see it as much of a saving. Be a wise shopper and look at the real value of the product, not just the discount.
2. The bakery to greet you with. Walking into a warm and inviting bakery is one of the best ways to make you hungry. The smell of fresh bread alone can enhance your appetite, and many stores will be highlighting ‘today’s special’ of freshly baked bread just for you – how convenient! It may take some firm self-discipline to steer you away from those beautiful cakes and pastries, but avoiding the bakery completely is simply the best way to save some money.
3. Free samples. Sure, you could use a snack of yogurt smoothies and free crackers with gourmet cheese while you shop. And now that happy moment is imprinted in your conscience, the ideal way to ensure you pick up a box or bag of the freebie on your next visit – or even your current one with the help of a coupon. Free samples are a direct marketing tactic that hardly seem deceptive, but it’s one of the hardest purchases to resist – especially when the sample tasted quite good.
4. The bank. By having the confidence that money is within walking distance, you are much more likely to spend a little extra. The best way to get around this is simply not to bank at the same grocery store you shop in. Simply entering the grocery store multiple times per week to cash checks or manage your money can set you up to shop more -picking up flowers, the day’s ‘manager’s specials’, and that loaf of bread without thinking too much about it.
5. Specials on major brands. Grocery stores are in the business to make money, not to give you the gift of super-savings. They will take every step to highlight and showcase the major brands, and these are often linked to premium prices. It might take some digging to find generic equivalents or lower priced items, but you can easily save a few dollars by shopping smartly. Skip those giant pyramids of cereal boxes, stacks of premium brand soup, and towers of the latest candy bars; they’re all carefully positioned for you to shop like a kid in a candy store.
6. ‘Clearance’ stickers. While some items such as bakery and health and wellness products are marked down for a quick sale, some grocery stores go overboard with their sales and clearance racks by slapping bright red or yellow stickers on just about everything. Consider the original price whenever you reach for that markdown; in some cases, the markdowns only add up to pennies on the dollar, especially if you end up throwing out a portion of something that’s near it’s expiration date.
7. In-store TV entertainment. Did you catch a segment of the Food Network on your recent trip to WalMart or a cooking show demo at SuperTarget? You were probably far from the entertainment section, but the broadcast was set up right in the grocery aisle and checkout lines. More and more grocery stores are making attempts to entertain shoppers while they make their rounds, helping you ‘relax and enjoy’ your experience – the perfect state of mind to pummel you with advertising messages and product recommendations. And since you’re already in purchasing mode, you’re much more likely to just add a few items for that enticing new recipe you just ‘found.’
It’s no mystery that grocery stores are the perfect arena for marketers and advertisers; just don’t succumb to these deceptive tactics by sticking with your list and heading to the grocery store solely to stock up on what you really need. Skip the samples, avoid those televisions, and steer clear of the bakery for the most successful trip!