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12/3/15blog post

what influences our supermarket decisions?

My husband and I had a date recently… grocery shopping without children. No- really, this is actually fun. Our problem, though, was shopping on an empty stomach. We had our list, but, our cart was full of unintended items. How did this happen?

If you have 11 minutes – watch Dr. Margo Wootan and Center for Science in the Public Interest video’s What Influences Supermarket Decisions? It is both entertaining and so true.

For those that do not have the 11 minutes, in a nutshell, the video explains the follow how MARKETING drives our grocery shopping:

  1. Unconscious Mind. Marketing targets our brain. Think about window displays, shelf location of foods (note what foods sit on the middle shelf which is at a child’s eye level), end caps, bakery smell, size of the cart (the larger, we can buy more!). All of these tactics are sneaky and effective.
  2. Defaults. Defaults are what you buy unless you actively choose something else. What drives purchases: Larger is a better deal; Buy one get one free; Salt/Sugar/Fat added to food (we expect and want more and more).
  3. Willpower Reserves. Wootan quotes Oscar Wilde, “I can resist anything except temptation.” We when grocery shop tired, stressed, overwhelmed, hungry…our willpower is reduced.

So what can you do?

Companies could change marketing to support healthier decisions. Google removed M&Ms from vending. Disney offers fruit and vegetables as sides to meals. It is happening – we need more companies to join the movement! In the meantime, be mindful during grocery shopping: stick to your grocery list, shop on a full stomach, beware the aisles and shop the perimeter!