Saturday, May 11, 2013

Beware the Supermarketing!

I began this jaunt through the Internet with an article on applied strategies for food waste prevention in supermarkets, restaurants and homes. I started reading with high spirits, but was quickly brought back to my pessimistic world view when I reached a description of the "Pile em high watch em fly" philosophy which reasons that people are enticed by large displays of food, especially when placed towards the entrance because it gives the illusion of a "deal." This strategy was rececently abandoned by Stop&Shop because it lead to more produce spoiling, which, when seen by customers is more of a deterrent than bait. (Go figure.)  

Entirely distracted from optimistic case studies in this article, I was compelled to find out how else the super market goliaths are manipulating consumers to buy more. I discovered that the "pile em’ high watch em’ fly" philosophy is just the tip of the iceberg. Grocery stores intricate marketing strategies are both appalling and explicable at once. It’s upsetting in the way that all marketing is: this external force embeds a craving deep enough such that you’ll act on it, but covert enough such that you think it arouse organically. Given the ubiquitous nature of marketing, its understandable that any establishment with an abundance of products will pull out all the stops. Especially when the customer base is secured because their products, unlike most, are necessary purchases.

Yes, we will inevitably spend money at the grocery store, but clever product placement will have you spending more than is necessary, and likely waste more too.  Rather than make you feel as undermined and manipulated as I did after learning their schemes, I’ll try to put a positive spin on my findings. Here are some helpful tips to see past the marketing ploys and give you the most control over your shopping experience:

1)   Bring a list and stick to it! It’s common knowledge, but for the sake of making this list comprehensive, it must be said. 

2)   Eat before you shop.  For me, impulse buys are typically post-shopping snacks (chips, dried seaweed, chocolate covered something or other). Avoid these purchases with a full belly.

3)   Plug in and tune out. Normally, I frown upon disengaging from public spheres, but this time is different. If you’re alone, listen to something that’ll get your adrenaline pumping! Some hard-hitting beats will motivate you to move through your list quickly.   

4)   Mothers: Distract your child! While I don’t have a child of my own, I still remember being one at the grocery store. I waited patiently until we neared the end of our trip, then look up at my mother with pleading eyes and asked, “Can I have a treat?” Some kids aren’t so well mannered, and when the right kind of snack crosses his eye (which it WILL) queue: hysterics. Know that the danger zone is kids eye level. So come prepared with a snack from home or something shinny to divert attention and help avoid unnecessary spending, and tantrums.

5)   Consider those coupons. You might save money now, but that money could end up in the trash if spent on food that you won’t eat before the expiration date. Remember: a penny saved is a penny earned.

6)   Lastly, staples. You might notice that eggs and dairy are never in the most convenient locations. Always pushed to the perimeter, giving you no choice but to navigate through aisles of tempting nonsense. By purchasing these items at the end of your trip, you can ovoid impulse buys and your time sensitive food will be marginally fresher! WIN-WIN!

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