Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Science of Grocery Shopping


The essentials of a grocery list include the following: fruits/veggies, milk, eggs, meat/poultry, bread. You know this, and more importantly, the grocery store designers know this. They take this information and use it to its fullest potential. The majority of grocery stores follow a similar layout as indicated by the image and you enter in the “Checkout” area. The floor plan is strategically designed to make sure you see everything the grocery store has to offer. The more you see, the more you are likely to buy because high impulse buying accounts for 60%-70% of all purchases.

Notice in the layout that the essentials I mentioned earlier are located at the back end and corners of the store. This means you must walk the entire perimeter to be able to get all the items starting on the right hand side. In addition, if you must go down an aisle, the most common products are placed in the center so you have to walk all the way there to pick it up. Once you got your food, it is unlikely you will turn back and go back down the way you came. Therefore you will continue down the aisle exposing yourself to more products. In addition, after walking down the aisle you will wind up on the “Checkout” side of the store and you will have to go back to the other end to get the rest of your essentials, which means you will walk down the next aisle to get there and probably buy unnecessary things. There are several sneaky tactics as work in the store. Too many to mention so I will leave you with a couple of my favourites:

-Timed bakery smells: makes shoppers hungry and want to buy more

-Eye level marketing: you will pay more attention to them, and so will your kids (as shown in the image below).

I would like to thank Professor Purac who lectured on this information and opened my eyes to many consumer habits.


  1. you know what kills me... those FREE samples.
    gotta love Costco!

  2. Do you think Movie theaters pop fresh popcorn to entice our taste buds... and spend more on a snack then the movie we go to see?

  3. I remember learning about this in high school in my "Food & Nutrition" class. Very interesting though.

  4. I actually took an MIT class last year that talked about this. We even discussed how retail stores for things like clothing and toys work in exactly the same way. It's kind of interesting to see how there's this scientific aspect to our everyday lives. Its definitely something that we are not all aware of. I remember reading those books and asking myself if I really fell for that stuff and the truth is, I think 99% (if not all of us) do!

  5. I took that class last year and was just as amzed as you are. I was also told by someone that the signs they use to warn people that the floor is wet is not their only purpose. Some stores put these signs out even though the floor isn't wet, to make customers walk in a specific direction. If you think the grocery thing was interesting wait until she starts talking about the IKEA affect, that will blow your mind.

  6. They should put proteins and simple carbs in the same area so I would spend less time at the grocery store...



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