Consumers' movements are scrutinized every time they push their carts through the aisles of a supermarket. Grocers know their profits jump upward when customers have to walk to the rear of the store for high-volume items because shoppers toss unplanned extras into their baskets. Likewise, shoppers realize these industry tactics translate into bigger bills at the checkout. Marketers and consumer watchdogs debate the advantages and disadvantages of a supermarket layout that is heavily geared toward coaxing people to succumb to temptation.
Nearly 60 percent of shoppers venture into supermarkets without lists, which leaves them at risk for compulsive spending, says The Integer Group's Shopper Culture website. Store managers count on shoppers to fall victim to their whims. Grocers deliberately place their top sellers such as milk and bread in opposite sections so that patrons grab all sorts of merchandise on their quest for basic staples. Managers operate in-store bakeries around impulse-buying theories because they know the sweet aromas of fresh breads and pastries nab hungry customers.
Eye-level on a shelf represents prime real estate inside a food store because shoppers buy more products placed there than on lower or higher shelves. Supermarket managers often place name-brand items on lower shelves as a way of clearing the more visible shelves for in-store brands or advertised specials. This benefits the consumer, who saves money and avoids the like-for-like comparison with the more expensive items that have been shoved out of the way.
Some products go hand-in-hand with each other, like salsa and chips or detergents and rubber gloves. Supermarket designers often put these supplemental items together, placing a cardboard kiosk with strainers in the same aisle as teabags. These "perfect partners" generate substantial revenue for a grocer without depriving him of precious shelf space. Marketers also will argue that this tactic saves a consumer from having to wander throughout the store in search of products that complement each other.
Fresh fruits and vegetables fill the entrances of most grocery stores. This supermarket layout accomplishes several objectives. Natural light makes produce look more appealing, and immediate visibility ensures that produce will move quickly so that the supermarket is not left with wasted perishable items. At the same time, grocers know their shoppers want healthier meals, so spacious produce displays encourage patrons to buy more fruits and vegetables.