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8 sneaky psychological tricks that supermarkets use to make you spend more



All you need at the supermarket is milk, eggs and some fresh veggies for dinner. And nothing else! Just a super quick lap around the supermarket for the things on your grocery list.

But as soon as you enter the supermarket, a wonderful smell of freshly baked bread welcomes you. And before you know it, you’re on your way to grab a few of the baked goods.

As you’re walking through the supermarket, sweet sounds are playing, you smell the freshly baked goods, and beautiful flowers almost seem to stand there waiting for you to take them home. And when you’re at the cashier, you notice the two for the price of one offer on chocolate bars. What a scoop! – and they end up in your shopping cart.

Do you recognize any of these scenarios? Not to worry. You’re not the only one who falls for the sneaky psychological tricks that supermarkets play on you. In fact, supermarkets have a ton of tricks designed to make you spend more money each time you’re on the hunt for groceries.


We’ll show you eight of them here! Read along and learn how to guard yourself for the next time you’re grocery shopping 🛒 💳


Fancy a baguette?


Yummmmm! The smell of cinnamon rolls, danishes, and freshly baked baguettes right out the oven. Is there a better smell? The pleasant smell is more than just that – it tricks your brain into adding freshly baked goods to your cart. Even if baked goods weren’t on your grocery list.


The first impulse buy, damn!


Those enticing flowers


Colorful, gorgeous flowers never fail to entice, right? They smell great and do wonders in capturing your attention while bringing you happy vibes. It’s no coincidence that flowers tend to be placed in front of the supermarket. They assist in changing your mood to a happier one while doing your grocery shopping. And if the flowers get you in a great mood, you’re more likely to grab a bouquet and add it to your cart.

Happy shopping? Smart move!


Bigger shopping cart = bigger bill



Have you ever come across those super XXL sized shopping carts? No wonder! If you go for a larger shopping cart, you tend to automatically fill it with more groceries than planned. Why? Simply because it feels good to fill up empty space.


You might end up filling nothing less than 40% more in your cart if you go for the big cart instead of the regular or smaller version. Holy guacamole!


Only 2,99? That’s cheap!


Have you ever wondered why most prices in the supermarket end with a 9? Well, it's time to introduce you to one of the oldest tricks in the book - the left digit effect! And it’s a rather simple trick. Because you read from left to right, you’re bound to focus on the first digit instead of the last.

So, what sounds cheaper to you? 2,99 or 3,00? Although the difference is only 1 cent, most people will instinctively think that 2,99 is way cheaper than 3,00.


And the toothpaste has moved… yet again



For the longest time, you've known that the toothpaste has its position on shelf 4. Suddenly, it's been moved to the shelf 8. But why? You may ask.

If you’re perfectly aware of the positions of your usual products in the supermarket, you might just walk straight to find those products. This way, you don’t come across tons of other products that you might need.


And the supermarkets are perfectly aware of this. So, how do they get your attention and have you walk past other shelves and aisles? A good ol’ classic trick is to move the products around, so you have to go for a fresh sightseeing around the supermarket to find what you’re looking for. Here’s the bright chance of you adding more products to your cart.


Mellow muzak


Have you ever noticed the soft tones and smooth rhythms from the speaker that accompany you on your shopping spree?

The background music is there to create a nice, relaxed atmosphere that will slow down your pace while browsing the market. This way, you’ll spend more time exploring the selection and - you’ve probably guessed it by now - the chance of you buying more things will increase.


Long way to the basics


Let’s face it. Most of us need to buy basic things like milk, butter, or meat. And the supermarkets know this. That’s why they put these items all the way back at the end of the market.


So before you can get to them, you’ll be passing the fresh fruit and vegetable area, the snack aisle and the soda spot. And make no mistake. On this lap through the supermarket, the chance that you’ll end up adding a little something extra to your cart is high.


Last stop: self-indulgence by the cashier



Yay! You made it! Your shopping trip is coming to an end. All you have to do is wait in line at the cashier and pay. Easy peasy, right? Nope. Because as you wait in line, you start to see all the tempting chocolate bars, small packs of chips and other delicious snacks they’ve placed near the cashier.


And when your blood sugar level is running low on energy, you might feel like indulging in a little pick-me-up snack on your way home. But why?


The supermarkets know you’re an easy target to tempt with sugary snacks after running up and down the aisles. That’s exactly the reason that magazines, candy, gum, and other uh-I-need-that-impulse-buy snacks are located close by the cashier, so you’ll have plenty of time to be tempted while waiting in line to pay.


Supermarkets place plenty of sneaky psychological traps throughout the stores. And it’s easy to fall for them if you don’t know what to watch out for. But now you do!

So supermarkets, be aware, we’re on to your little mind tricks.

Bonus effect? By being prepared and aware of the supermarket tricks, you might just end up saving tons of money. Enjoy! 😎


This blog post has been brought to you by Spiir. Spiir is a free money app that has helped more than 300.000 users in the Nordics get a better grip on their finances. With one single click, you can see how you’re spending your money in a smart and fun way. You can easily set up personal spending goals, so you become more aware of your spending habits, and control how much spend on to-go coffee, bus tickets and groceries. Download the app today.

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