19 Supermarket Mind Games That Get You To Buy More Junk Food

Sure, that produce at the front of the store looks nice. They put it there so you’ll buy the Cheetos two aisles down.

1. Supermarkets and the food companies that stock them have one goal: To get you to buy more food so you’ll spend more money.


These companies constantly research ways to “slow down shoppers” so they’ll buy and spend more.

2. It’s why they line the entrances with rotisserie chickens and freshly baked goods.

The smells will have you salivating as soon as you walk through the doors. Not only will you be tempted to buy these foods, you’ll also just be hungrier than when you walked in, and therefore more likely to shop, shop, shop.

3. They want you to do your healthy produce shopping first so that afterwards you’ll reward yourself with the junk food in the next aisles over.


Just seeing those fresh, colorful fruits and vegetables will make you feel healthy enough to give yourself a processed, junky treat.

4. The whole store is designed for you to walk past thousands of products you didn’t plan on buying.

That’s why they send you into far-flung back corners to find your bread and milk: So you’ll pick up some soda and chips along the way.

5. Grocers stock the most high-profit items where they know you’re most likely to see them.


Because most people tend to veer right in the aisles, for example, the aisle’s right-side shelves have more expensive products on them.

6. Food makers pay “slotting fees” for shelf spots. The best are those at eye level, where you’re most likely to look.

7. Though some products are strategically placed on lower shelves: the ones at children’s eye level.


8. Endless flavor varieties are yet another way companies grab more shelf space and customer attention.

The actual differences between flavors are so minuscule that if you compare the ingredients, they’re often EXACTLY THE SAME. Check out, for example, Yoplait’s Strawberry Banana versus the Strawberry, Harvest Peach, and Vanilla flavors.

9. Stores also love to suggest food pairings.

You were just gonna buy that bag of chips, but hey, that weird non-refrigerated cheese dip would go so well with them so why not?

10. Because you’ll pay extra attention to the end-of-aisle displays, nearly all are stacked with high profit products, especially soda.


11. You’ll almost never be able to turn mid-aisle: The stores want you to walk up and down the whole row.


12. They play slow music, carefully selected to encourage you to shop longer.


One study found that playing classical music at a wine store will get customers to select pricier bottles.

13. Some supermarkets will even use smaller floor tiles in the expensive sections so you think you’re moving faster than you are.


“As the clicking of the trolley wheels becomes quicker, you instinctively slow down,” says Professor Alan Penn from University College, London.

14. They want you to think you’re saving money by spending more: That’s why it’s always cheaper to buy bigger packages of food.

And FYI, buying food in bigger packages gets you to eat bigger servings too.

15. And luring you in with “free” samples won’t just get you to buy the product you’re trying. It will get you to buy more of other products too.

“Sampling any high-incentive item in a grocery store is likely to increase the subsequent desirability and purchase of that particular product,” Stephen Nowlis, a professor of marketing at Arizona State University told the National Retail Federation in 2012, “as well as other rewarding items.”

16. “Shopper’s club” discount cards don’t just give you discounts. They also give retailers information on your buying habits.

The information tells the store how to use store layout, shelf space, and prices to get you to spend as much money as possible.

17. As shopping carts get bigger and bigger, customers buy more and more food.

“We did an experiment with that, and we actually doubled the size of the shopping cart,” said marketing consultant Martin Lindstrom in 2011. “And you buy 40 percent more. In Whole Foods, the shopping carts over the last two years have doubled in size almost.”

18. Checkout aisles, meanwhile, have been getting increasingly narrow so that people can’t ditch food at the last minute.

Stay strong: If you don’t want to buy to those Cheetos, don’t buy them!

19. But they still have space to line up lots of candy and other impulse buys you may have resisted in other parts of the store.

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