Don’t fall for the supermarket layout

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“I only need to pick up a few things.”

That’s what you said before you entered the supermarket. So how come every time, those “few things” turn into a basket, which then turns into a trolley? It may be a mystery to you, but every feature, from the lighting, to the music to the placement of the products has been carefully researched to attract you.

Here, we uncover the psychology behind supermarket layouts to help prevent your next supermarket sweep leaving your wallet empty, but you, full of regret.

The entrance

Before you even step into the supermarket, bright colors of fresh fruit and veg catch your eye and make you feel happy. At this point you’re already thinking to yourself “it’s going to be a fun shopping experience”. Then, you reach the bakery where the smell of freshly baked goods starts tickling your nose and your mouth begins to water – this is when you start shopping with your stomach. Some supermarkets like to place coffee and tea at the entrance too. Think about it: There’s nothing more inviting than the smell of freshly ground coffee and baked bread. All of a sudden you feel a lot hungrier than you did 5 minutes before.

The magic middle

Then there’s the clever method of combining certain items. As you place some tea bags in your basket, you already spot biscuits nearby that would go great with a cup of tea – what a coincidence, right? Don’t be fooled. That’s no coincidence. Also here you’re stepping into a trap: complementary goods are usually served together to make your life even harder.

Next stop: Dairy products. Ever wondered why everyday commodities like milk and butter are never placed at the entrance of the store? Think about it: if the only products you actually went for shopping for are the first thing you come across, it’s likely that you’ll grab them, pay and exit without walking through the rest of the store being drawn in by delicious smells or tempted to buy things you “think you need”. Essentials are tucked away towards the centre, to make you walk past a bunch of products, which might also attract you in the end.

Almost reached the check-out

Just when we think it’s all over, we’re faced with the biggest challenge of them all: the impulse buys. Here, even the strongest-willed shoppers will struggle to resist. Little things like gum, magazines and mints, surround us from every angle as we wait in the queue. And as you open your purse to pay, you also reach for your loyalty card to get some extra bonus points and coupons – that is afterall the reason why supermarkets have loyalty cards, right? Bonus cards are given out by supermarkets not just because they want you to come back – but also to track your shopping habits so they can target you with advertisements for products you’re likely to buy.

Our tip? Stay old-fashioned and take your handwritten grocery list to the supermarket with you, or use the shopping list feature from your Freeletics Nutrition Coach. This will save you time and money buying unnecessary items. Being aware of the psychology behind supermarkets, will help you see things differently and stay faithful to your healthy lifestyle.