Supermarket psychology

Watching a recent BBC documentary on supermarkets, it was fairly shocking to see that an independent analysis of shopper’s behaviour showed that a whopping 95% of them were Brain-dead Drones that responded in almost precisely the way the supermarket’s shelf and offer organisers wanted them to!

By laying out the product in particular locations, down to the height of the shelf they appeared on, using selected combinations of labelling, colouring and packaging, setting the price levels of certain similar products, placing offers in amongst regularly priced items, and many other similar tweaks, they aim to program the customer into making purchase in such a way that they are steered unconsciously towards the products and brands the supermarket wants them to, rather than the product of their choice. And that includes purchases of what they THINK they are selecting freely.

To use one of the emotional descriptions, watching the analysis of the shoppers the programme followed, and matching that to the intended behaviour the supermarket wanted, was frightening. The Drones basically ‘did as they were told’.

The worrying aspect was that they seemed to simply switch their brains OFF once they were underway, and simply grazed from item to item, filling their trolley with little concern for the price, packaging, or need, as they picked items they didn’t actually need, and just picked as they saw it. It’s simply incredible to learn that 95% of the folk wandering around the shop are substantially the same.

I wouldn’t have believed that if I hadn’t seen it myself, but you can’t argue with what you see for yourself, and just watching your fellow shoppers any day will confirm this, even down to the Pester Power of kids, forcing tired parent to buy what they want, just for peace. The amount of money they are wasting on stuff that will go in the bin unsused, and the uncecessary waste resulting is just ridiculous. They deserve to lose the money it costs them, but we end up paying for the waste (new taxes etc.) and the supermarket are rolling in their squandered cash.

Oh, and a small mention for the 5% of us that don’t comply, and buy what we want, as we want it, and actually look at the prices to see if the stuff represents value, and that included the Special Offers, that don’t always offer the value they claim to – compare the same stuff from other suppliers or shelves. You may be surprised.

I’m quite happy to be a member of a surprisingly small group that the supermarketeers must hate – I actually look at what I’m buying, and the price, AND if it’s something I actually use/need/will use (i.e. not put in the bin because I bought too much without considering how long it will last)

Guess I finally get to use the Sales & Marketing skills I was forced to take along with my chosen studies all those years ago.

I still find it difficult to believe that folk are so easily taken in but, on the other hand, looking at the way recent generations are taken in by Celebrity Worship, maybe I’m not too surprised either. Thinking for oneself seems to be becoming a thing of the past.


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