Sneaky games supermarkets play to get you to spend more

WASHINGTON - Spending too much at the super market is a common budgeting problem for many household shoppers, who will spend up to 38 percent more at the grocery store if a certain type of music is playing, according to research outlined below.

But the blame for overspending shouldn’t be placed solely on the consumer, says Lisa Rowan, a senior writer for savings website The Penny Hoarder.  

Rowan explains that supermarket marketers are actually playing sneaking games on shoppers to get them to spend more money.

Here are three, says Rowan, that you should be aware of:

GAME No. 1: They entice you to head right
RESULT: You spend more money

The entrance is typically on the right for a reason: to encourage shoppers to move counterclockwise through the store.

Since most people are right-handed, it’s easier to steer with your left hand and grab with your right, branding expert Martin Lindstrom explains in his book Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy. And when you go counterclockwise, you spend $2 more per trip on average, according to consumer data.

Hang a left next time you hit the store to save on groceries.

GAME No. 2: They offer larger shopping carts 
RESULT: You spend more money

Between 1975 and 2000, grocery carts tripled in size. There are several conflicting theories about why, including Ralph Nader’s conclusion that grocery stores were shaming us into buying more every time we visited.

The cause of this growth is hard to pin down — almost as much as whether it really affects shoppers. Just remember that choosing to push a cart around doesn’t mean you have to fill it to the brim every time you shop.

GAME No. 3: They play slow jams
RESULT: You spend more money

Ever found yourself crooning along with the smooth oldies playing while you shop?

Douglas Rushkoff writes in his book Coercion: Why We Listen to What ‘They’ Say that shoppers make 38 percent more purchases when a grocery store plays Muzak with a slower tempo.

Marketing professor Ronald Milliman studied shopping habits at a Dallas grocery store for two months to determine the effects of various tempos of music. Most shoppers couldn’t recall whether they heard music in the store, but when slow music played, the store made about $4,000 more that day.

“People simply, as you slowed them down, saw more they remembered they needed… or wanted,” Milliman told Freakonomics Radio.

Get caught up in the music, and your grocery budget could get caught up, too.

Find out more sneaky grocery store games, so you don't get played: 

To see more on this topic, check out Rowan’s article 8 Sneaky Mind Games Grocery Stores Play to Get You to Spend More Money on The Penny Hoarder's website.

 

© 2017 WUSA-TV


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