How supermarkets manipulate customers – part I

Not a single product in a supermarket is placed randomly. Marketing experts calculate when, where and how consumers make a quick grab. Tricks are becoming more and more crafty.

In the future, shop windows will talk to customers. If a passer-by looks intensively at a certain product e.g. a coffee service, a voice will explain the advantages of the product and monitors in the shop window will show additional information. Phillips introduced this technique in 2008. Through a camera, special software can analyze how long a passer-by regards a certain product. This can invite consumers to enter the store. Other tricks make them buy more than they actually wanted.

Nearly nobody buys only the products written on the shopping list. More than two third of the products bought are products the customer decided to buy spontaneously. Manfred Bruhn, professor for Marketing at Basel University states that “70% of the purchase decisions in a conventional supermarket are made emotionally”. Scientists all over the world work hardly to make this share even bigger.

In 2008, Microsoft tested in cooperation with MediaCart a shopping cart with position-finders and monitors in branches of the US-food-retailer Wakefern. Through a radio network it is possible to identify the exact route customers take and how long and where they stop. Matching to the products in the shelves the monitor on the shopping cart shows advertisements. Open customers can even pull their credit cards through a card scanner so that the computer in the cart can identify the certain customer. In this way, tips for buying can be given already after three or four visits at the store. By this, buying profiles can be build. Ultimately, advertising-mails can remember consumers that e.g. in the upcoming days the stock of toothpaste will come to an end.

The so-called “Neuromarketing is a new field of marketing that studies consumers’ sensorimotor, cognitive, and affective response to marketing stimuli.” and is extremely popular for modern experts in marketing. Scientists found out that e.g. customers brains are just little active when they look at brand-logos but highly active in certain regions (such as regions for feelings and memory) when a face is on a certain packing. That is why consumers can remember those products better. In addition the quality of the picture on the packing is really important to influence the purchasing decision.

Nowadays, scientists study all influences in a store.

The perfect temperature for buying is e.g. 19 °C. Is it too warm, consumers become drowsy. Is it too cold in the store, costumers leave the store more quickly.

Aside from temperature, smells have a high impact on purchasing decisions. Women e.g. buy more cloth if a scent of vanilla is in the air; men if there is a spicy scent in the store. The only reason for many supermarkets to have a bakery is the smell of fresh rolls and bread, costumers really like.

Even the music in a store is not chosen randomly. In the morning, many pensioners buy their staff and the sounds are more rustic, when the young people arrive in the stores after school, the music gets louder and pop-sounds are preferred. After 6 pm, when stressed office workers arrive, calm pieces of music can be heard.  Vine can be sold very effectively when classical music is played. The best music is music that has 72 beats per minute. Everything else has a tiring or bothersome effect.

What are the differences in buying patterns between men and women? How can structure and product placing in stores make us buy more? And what happens when customers notice that they are influenced? Answers to these questions next Sunday in part II of “How supermarkets manipulate customers”.

(All facts mentioned in the text are taken from Thomas Jüngling’s German article “Wie Supermärkte ihre Kunden manipulieren” written for WeltOnline.)


About NerdyLaura

Born and raised in Berlin, Germany. 20-year-old girl. Studying "International Business Management" at Berlin School of Economics and Law although my Time-Management is really bad ;). Hates: Rainy days and people who are driving 30 km/h when 50 km/h are allowed. Loves: Kitschy staff, jewellery, gardening (green fingers) and movies (good and bad ones). View all posts by NerdyLaura

10 responses to “How supermarkets manipulate customers – part I

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