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Turn Off All Your Senses When Grocery Shopping – Except Your Common Sense

August 13, 2010 · 15 comments

in Personal Finance

I was at the grocery store the other day buying produce, and I suddenly realized how much grocery stores rely on the senses of consumers while trying to market their items.

For instance:

Sight:  I was selecting some corn in the produce department, which was very reasonably priced at 4 ears for a dollar.  I stood there shucking corn when I looked one shelf up and there was prepackaged ears of corn (5 per pack), selling for $3.49.  $3.49!  I couldn’t believe it.  There was one ‘strip’ of the corn that had already been shucked so you could see the quality of the kernels, but the back of each ear still needed to be shucked, so it isn’t like the store even did all the work for you.  I couldn’t believe that someone would spend almost triple the amount for prepackaged corn.  It took me all of 4 minutes to grab 5 ears and shuck it, and my ears of corn were undoubtedly fresher than the ones all tightly wrapped in plastic.

Right next to the corn was a display of pre-cut fruit.  It looked very nice on the twenty dollar platter – blueberries, strawberries, pineapple, etc.  Very colorful, very appealing, and very expensive.  Sure, I expect some amount of markup for the labor put into prepackaging products, but the markup they put on these items is definitely not worth it to me.  I am convinced that people buy certain products not only out of convenience, but also because it looks nice and fresh.

Smell:  Think of the bakery.  I love walking into the store and smelling the freshly baked items.  I see so many moms walking around shopping with kids eating donuts and whatnot.   I am sure that some consumers are drawn to the bakery based on the smell wafting through the store.  Same is true for rotisserie chicken.  Although I don’t see kids eating legs of chicken while sitting in the cart, I know that the smell gets me thinking of buying some chicken every time I am in the store.

Taste:  Free Samples!  Obviously, the free samples are there to lure consumers into buying whatever the sample is for, but hey, at least you are getting something for free.  Just don’t fall for purchasing that item unless it is on a super-sale!

So if you are ever tempted to buy that overpriced corn, think ‘geez, I could buy 14 ears of corn for what they are charging for 5’ and run away.  Don’t fall for that or for buying things at the end of the aisle, which is always a ripoff.  I could go on and on about saving money at the grocery store, but I will save that for another day.  (Plus I am sure you readers are tired of me screaming about how you need to combine sales with coupons for maximum saving.)

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