Grocery Store Tactics
Food companies use marketing tactics to get shoppers to buy their products. These tactics are used to market healthier foods, such as dairy, whole grains, and legumes, but it can also be used to market foods that are not as nutritious. Some of these tactics are obvious, like using attractive photos and designs on their products. Others are sneakier, like placing their products in specific spots in the store or using certain buzzwords to make the product seem healthier.
Look beyond eye-level. When you are looking for an item at the grocery store, be sure to look up and down to see what is on the higher and lower shelves. In some cases, lower cost or generic brand items may be on the lower shelves. In other cases, food items that may appeal to children (often colorful boxes with cartoon characters) can be on the lower shelves where they are easily seen by kids.
Watch out for the smell of fresh baked goods. Grocery stores use psychology to help sell more items. One of the popular tricks is to bake chocolate chip cookies and fresh bread to get shoppers hungry.
Avoid checkout aisle temptations. Grocery store checkout aisles are often full of candy, sugar-sweetened beverages and salty snacks. This is meant to attract shoppers for a last-minute impulse buy.
End caps and special displays are not always showing the best deals. Grocery stores use end cap displays, or the small shelving units at the end of an aisle, to highlight certain items. Sometimes stores will display the price of end-cap items with larger price tags. This can confuse the shopper and make the item seem like it is on sale, when the number displayed is really its normal cost.
Think before you spend to save. Sometimes items on sale may be close to their expiration dates. If that is the case, then plan to use the item in the next few days. “Buy One, Get One” offers are common at the grocery store. Before you buy, think of whether you need the item, and if you could use the item before it goes bad. Also consider whether this item can be frozen. Other popular offers include bulk deals, such as getting 10 items for $10. With these, be sure to read the fine print on the price tag carefully. In some cases, this offer is really one item for $1 and you do not necessarily need to buy 10 items to take advantage of the deal.
Beware of buzzwords. Food packaging sometimes uses special buzzwords like “healthy” and “natural”. These words are not regulated and do not necessarily mean that they are good choices. Luckily, the Nutrition Facts label can help you make the best choices for you and your family. Learn more about how to read the Nutrition Facts label, here.
Tips for Outsmarting Grocery Store Tactics
- Make sure to eat a snack before grocery shopping to prevent impulse buys.
- If you’re working with a tight budget, make sure you stick to your grocery list. For tips on writing a grocery list, read more here.
- Studies show that the less time you spend in the store, the less money you spend. To help you save a little money, focus on your list and don’t let yourself stray.
Coupons, Apps and Loyalty Programs
Coupons, store loyalty programs and store apps are all great ways to save money at the grocery store. Before you head to the store, you can check the store’s website to see if they offer any digital coupons, apps with shopping incentives or store loyalty programs that you can sign up for in advance. You can find coupons in newspaper inserts, in your mail, on your receipts, or even online. Loyalty programs and apps can help you plan your meals by showing you the best deals on grocery items that week.
Coupons, Apps and Loyalty Programs: Know Before You Go
- Double check expiration dates on coupons so you know for sure that you can use all the coupons you have budgeted into your shopping trip.
- Make sure the store incentive programs and apps are free to use so you don’t have the additional cost of memberships or subscriptions
- Think about how you plan to use the item before you buy it. Just because it is on sale or you have a coupon doesn’t mean it is necessarily a good deal for you, especially if it spoils before you end up using it.
- Coupons and sales on name brand items aren’t always a great deal. You can sometimes still get a similar store brand item for a lower price.
- Some stores will double the value of coupons during certain times of the year. Check with each store to see their policy on doubling coupons.