Supermarket Psychology – Think Like The Retail Giants

| Sunday, January 23rd, 2011 | No Comments »

Shopping psychology has nothing on the big boys of the retail industry; the supermarkets. If you can copy their techniques to not only get customers off the streets and into their shops but also to spend high, then you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank!

Large supermarkets employ what is known as a visual merchandise consultant. A professional whose job it is to tweak the lighting, displays, sounds and even smells of the supermarket to maximise profit. Smaller independent stores can’t compete with such professionals but we can let you in on a few of their trade secrets so that you can copy them for yourself!

  • Smell-O-Vision: It is no secret that supermarkets often waft the smell of freshly baked bread through their air-conditioning unit to lure in hungry shoppers. In fact my local Waitrose used to pump this smell out into the car park even though they didn’t have an in store bakery! If you weren’t hungry when you pulled up, you soon would be when you smelt the heavenly scent of freshly baked bread and the supermarkets know that hungry shoppers buy more! However if your shop doesn’t sell food you can still waft in delicious smells such as vanilla, chocolate or smells of the season like festive cinnamon and cloves for Christmas to lure shoppers into your store.
  • Landing Zone: As we’ve discussed before, the landing zone is that area just inside the shop doors where your customer is confronted with the sights, sounds, smells and warmth of the shop. Anything place in this zone will not be noticed, so try to keep a small area clear for your customer to assert themselves and decide which way to go.
  • Triangular Balance: This method is used time and time again in department stores, particularly with perfume. The idea behind it is that the customer’s eyes are drawn towards the centre object, which looks most appealing in this formation. So this is where the crafty department stores place their most expensive, or best value bottle, of perfume. Once you’ve seen this bottle the others don’t seem to match up to it. It doesn’t just work with bottles, this method works for a lot of items and it’s well worth trying out.
  • Till Placed Products: The bane of mothers everywhere! Sweets, magazines and other impulse purchases placed just by the till so that you are forced to look at them as you unload your shopping. Mothers may hate sweets sold in this way, but the supermarkets love it and it works so much it’s used in card shops, newsagents and even DIY stores! Put your smaller items here, even a little basket of sales items for customers to rummage through whilst they wait and watch as your impulse purchases soar.
  • Eye-Level Displays: Large supermarkets know that products place at eye-level display sell more quickly than the others. So they will place bestsellers and more expensive items at eye-level. See for yourself next time you go shopping – you’ll be amazed to see how many brand items are placed directly at eye-level. So you should follow suit!
  • Music: Streaming music through your shop is a double-edged sword. You’ll either get it bang on or hideously wrong. As you can’t afford to get it hideously wrong you’d probably be wise not to bother!

Of course there are many other ways that supermarkets try to lure people to buy, but these are a few tricks that any shop can copy. You may not see tins of baked beans flying off the shelves but you may just see a slight increase in spending due to a few tweaks that cost next to nothing to do, so that’s got to be worth it!

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