Shopping, Buying and Mind Control


Shop smart! Grocery shopping has cunningly become a battle of wits.

Everybody is out to get your money. If it is not muggers and con artists, it is big retail stores trying to entice you to spend more and buy what you don’t really need.

If you think supermarkets are just simple shops with more goods than a corner café, think again. The brilliantly crafted aisles (and the lure of special offers and in- store prizes) are designed to push your spending buttons to winkle as much cash out of you as possible.

Retailers work with the best masters of mind control (marketing gurus) to ensure that once you step into the store, you don’ t leave without a heavily laden trolley — even if you went there to buy soap. It has been said that in supermarkets the most kitchen equipment is bought indiscriminately by people who just came in to buy men’s underwear.

We asked Virgin Money and other gurus for tips on how to beat the masters at their own game.

TRICKS OF THE TRADE

SWEETS AND MAGAZINES NEAR THE TILL

These are impulse buys designed so shops can make one last grab at our cash. They are so tempting that not even a diabetic saint can resist them. We suggest you wear blinkers through this last dash of temptation or at the very least keep your eyes straight ahead.

HUNGRY SHOPPER

Walk hungry into a supermarket awash with fresh baking smells without having eaten breakfast, and you’re a goner. You’ll buy more than you normally would and you’ll spend more on junk food. Eat a full meal before you go in. And yes, have some wine with that — it will help you make better jokes with the cashier.

SUPERMARKET LAYOUTS MAKE US WALK, WALK AND…

Items like bread and milk and other standard fare are placed further apart than South African Olympic medals. This is so we have to walk past a whole lot of other stuff that the bad food devil on your shoulder convinces you to buy. Make a grocery list and stick to it.

EYE-LEVEL PRODUCTS ARE WHERE THE PROFITS ARE

The most profitable items in a supermarket are placed at eye level (or children’s eye level if it’s targeted at them). But the profitable goods for the supermarkets are usually not going to be the best deals for you. So scan the shelves higher and look lower to get a better deal. Bring a ladder if you have to.

lSALES ARE MEANT TO SELL

Lovely looking fruit and vegetables and other eye-pleasing products may be placed near the front of a store, and may even be selling below cost to entice you in with a genuine bargain. Bright colours and the words “discount” and “sale” loom large, making you feel good about yourself. And so we tell ourselves, the more we shop, the more we’re saving.

But beware, these reductions may only be a few cents and you’d have to buy four tons of bananas to make a saving worth mentioning. Besides, the “sale” may also be designed to get rid of stuff that no one wants for a very good reason. So check out other stuff in the store before you succumb to the sale.

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