How supermarkets entice you to spend

How supermarkets entice you to spend

Hi, this is a look at the ways supermarkets tempt you in to their stores or online and what they hope to achieve through marketing.

Supermarkets spend fortunes on branding and image. If they can place themselves at the forefront of your consciousness when you have a need, there is a greater chance you will shop with them. For example how do you search the internet? You most likely Google it. The brand Google has become a verb and a noun and the go to way to conduct a search. Similarly supermarkets want you to associate your grocery needs with their brand above the others. Once instore, if they can increase the amount of time you spend in store, they can upsell to you and lock you out of going to a competitor.

The typical ways they do this is by targeted marketing through TV adverts, social media, local and national press, direct delivered coupons and leaflets and loyalty schemes. The closer a supermarket can get to understanding your shopping behaviours, allows them to send more tailored offers to you before you shop and increasingly while you shop.

It is well known that we can be influenced by promotions and store layout using bold colours and strategic product placement, fruit and veg displays are put at the front of the store to present a fresh and colourful display which attracts you inside. The smell of fresh baked bread emanating from the entrance of a store can draw you in, but the bread aisle is often towards the middle or the back of the store to ensure that you walk the whole store to get your daily loaf. Frozen food is at the end of the store for minimum time out of the freezer and other grocery displays are tightly controlled through planograms with expensive or higher margin items often at eye level. Offers are boldly advertised and generally fill the middle aisle on plinths for creating a bold value message.

In fact this is a similar psychology to that used in casinos. There is generally an easy walk in and a harder walk out. All the action happens at eye level with ceiling and floor space left bland to avoid distraction. There are few clocks or windows to avoid being aware of time spent inside. Supermarket cafe's like the casino shows are designed to keep you on site for longer.

Increasingly supermarkets are using behavioural economics techniques (e.g. nudges and priming) to lead you to their products. This plants their imagery in your subconscious, to make them your first choice. Here's some ways they build an association between you and their brand. Let's see how you do with this quiz.... (Answers at foot of article)


1) Name these supermarkets by their colour?


2) What crisp flavours, do these colours represent,

3) What if the above colours were milk instead of crisps, what are they now?

Colour can be a powerful non-verbal attribute. In addition, priming you with a category like crisps or milk can change your understanding.

Older folks will remember that Walkers disrupted the market by swapping the cheese and onion and salt and vinegar colours when they went after Golden Wonder.

Ident sounds at the start of adverts and slogans can also prime you to the advert sponsor.

4) Whose slogans are these?

  • Pocket The Difference
  • Every Little Helps
  • Live well for less
  • Big on Quality...
  • Championing Great British Quality
  • More Reasons to Shop At...
  • This is not just...

How strong were those associations for you? Did some supermarket colours or slogans stand out better than others?

One of the biggest Marketing events each year is the Christmas advert. Christmas is when stores take the largest amount of money, so it is important the advert is received well and attributed to the right store. When these adverts are created, they are tested carefully on focus groups. A specialist third party company enrols volunteers to watch the adverts whilst being hooked up to tracking equipment, which measures eyeball movement, brain activity, (through a cap fitted with sensors) and galvanic sweat response.

Every millisecond of the advert is assessed, spotting if the volunteers attention wanes or if something distracts them on or off screen. The adverts are played in black and white and without sound to ensure they are still attributed to the right supermarket. They are then re-edited before going live. Just because an advert is annoying, does not make it a bad advert if it drives great attribution and recall. A rivalry has built up between the main supermarkets and department stores, but that has been tempered by cost and actual conversion into sales.

An emerging technology is in store beacons. These are Radio Frequency chips that can interact with your phone. If you allow them access, they can send you offers whilst you shop. These will also help retailers identify the best promotional locations in their store and most used walk routes. These can also inform supplier funding negotiations.

Online shopping is measured by identifying how you came to our site, how long you stayed, how your viewing behaviour turned into actual sales (conversion) and other online measurements that have become standard with the advent of home shopping.

However, the reality is we often shop half asleep. Trying to capture attention towards new products is a significant problem for retailers. We might have a list or we might simply grab what we want, but it is well understood that lots of hanging posters, high volumes of advertising in aisle and general clutter, just become noise. Marketing messages need to be clear and easy to identify. in many ways less is more. Try this task, click the link



Hope this was a useful taster to how supermarkets try to entice you in for longer and keep you locked into their brands.

Supermarkets test answers

  1. Sainsbury's
  2. Tesco
  3. Morrison's
  4. Asda
  5. Aldi
  6. Lidl
  7. Iceland

Crisps colours:

  1. a) Ready Salted, B) Salt and Vinegar c) Cheese and onion

Milk Colours

  1. a) Skimmed, B) Semi Skimmed c) Full Fat

Whose slogans answers:

  • Asda
  • Tesco
  • Sainsbury's
  • Lidl (Lidl on Price)
  • Aldi
  • Iceland
  • Marks and Spencer

Selective attention test... Did you see it?

This shows how hard it is to get a message across in a noisy scenario and where your customer isn't paying attention.

Disclaimer: I am NOT sponsored and do not speak for any of the organisations mentioned. This is my own content based on my knowledge and views.


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