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Revealed: Sneaky supermarket tricks to make you spend more

Supermarkets have a number of tricks up their sleeve to get you to spend more in their stores.

A composite image of the inside of both a Coles and Woolworths superamarket.
Aussies have been warned to watch out for these supermarket tricks. (Source: Getty)

Supermarkets have been implementing sneaky tactics to get Aussies to spend more during their shop, and they’ve now been exposed by new research.

The UNSW Business School has revealed the consumer-behaviour tricks supermarkets are using to get you to spend big.

This comes as Australia is experiencing one of the worst cost-of-living crises recorded, with a mixture of higher prices and low wages.

UNSW Business School professor Nitika Garg said there were some key tactics to watch out for when supermarket shopping.

She said the tricks were all based on consumer psychology, designed to trigger reminder or impulse purchases for the consumer.

Supermarket tricks to look out for

Locked-in deals

These are commonly identified by bright red labels on items and typically present a capped price until a specified date. Consumers may be misled into believing that purchasing the item before the deadline offers greater cost-effectiveness due to the deal. However, the price of the locked-in deals is often the same as the original price of the item.

Store layout

Supermarkets design the layout of the store to purposely put staple foods such as milk and bread far away from each other – and usually at the back of the store. This tactic is designed to make a consumer walk through the store and spend more time.

Bigger-sized carts

Studies in the US have shown that some trolley sizes in supermarkets have doubled in size since first being introduced. This has resulted in consumers typically buying 40 per cent more food items. The idea behind this is that consumers are tricked into thinking their shopping trolley appears to be missing food items.

Music

Have you ever wondered why supermarkets typically play more relaxed, slow-paced music instead of fast and upbeat tunes? It’s not a coincidence. Supermarkets strategically choose calming music to create a relaxed atmosphere and encourage customers to stay longer, enhancing their shopping experience and getting them to buy more.

Store deals

The ‘buy two, get one free’ deals and similar schemes may initially appear as an excellent opportunity and a cost-effective method of saving money if it's an item you buy regularly. But, if it’s an item that has a short expiry date, it may not realistically be consumed within the time-frame. In addition, certain supermarkets show, for example, ‘buy two for $10.00’, making it appear as a deal and misleading the consumer by implying that you are saving on cost. However, upon closer inspection, you might find that the price of one item is just its regular price, that is, half the price of two.

“Their purpose is to sell more, that’s their job, they are storing lots of goods. They want you to buy more than what you have on your list,” Garg said.

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