Supermarkets have monitored our shopping habits for decades and designed stores to influence us – but is that all about to change?
Since they first appeared in our towns and cities, supermarkets have monitored our shopping habits and adapted their store layouts to our needs and desires.
This is not only to help us find what we need, but also to entice us to spend as much as possible in store.
For example, most classic supermarket layouts will use a good amount of floorspace around their entrances as a ‘decompression zone’, slowing customers down to ‘shopping speed’.
In the past, supermarkets would often also shepherd us through non-food aisles on our way to the essentials in the hope of turning us off-course, spreading popular items out around a store.
But convenience-style stores and the discounters appear to be changing all this. So what are the psychological tricks being deployed by newer supermarkets to draw us in and get us to spend?
Shoppers these days are increasingly time-poor – very few people will shop every aisle any more – and so demand greater convenience.
And supermarket layouts are changing to reflect that. Increasingly, simpler layouts direct shoppers to exactly where we want to be, without having to navigate large lobbies and non-food aisles.
With this rising demand for convenience, supermarkets are having to find new ways to try to sell us things we don’t necessarily want to buy.
Have you been into an Aldi or a Lidl recently? You may have noticed the layouts are somewhat different from traditional supermarkets.
To begin with, they’re often smaller – this means little (if any) space is given over to a lobby. Instead, you’ll often be slowed down to ‘shopping speed’ by a 90-degree turn and automatic doors.
The other big feature of newer, discounter supermarkets are their ‘specials’ aisles. Usually placed in the middle of the store, and running its whole length, specials aisles encourage us to slow down and browse.
When we sent our mystery shopper into Aldi (along with other supermarkets), she slowed down considerably to browse the specials aisle and eventually returned there to buy a doormat (which was not on her shopping list).
Brand déjà vu
Have you had trouble finding your favourite brands in Aldi and Lidl? This should come as no surprise: in discounter stores, own-brands reign supreme.
By primarily stocking their own product lines, these supermarkets avoid entering contracts with big-name brands, saving them a lot of money.
Although you might not be able to find the brand you might normally buy, there may be a familiar feel to the own-brand products lining the shelves in these stores.
This is because disrupter stores tend to use more elaborate branding on their own products, which often looks similar to that of market-leading brands, although there’s no evidence they are directly copying.
Aldi’s Alcafe instant coffee is a good example of this. It’s similar to Nescafe’s branding, so we instinctively feel secure buying it, even if it’s unfamiliar.
Do you shop in newer, discounter stores like Aldi and Lidl? How do you find the experience compared to bigger supermarkets? Are you a sucker for the ‘specials’ aisles? Have you noticed any other psychological tricks deployed in your supermarket?
What's your favourite supermarket?
Waitrose (17%, 31 Votes)
Aldi (16%, 29 Votes)
Tesco (14%, 25 Votes)
Lidl (13%, 23 Votes)
Marks & Spencer (11%, 19 Votes)
Sainsburys (10%, 18 Votes)
Asda (9%, 16 Votes)
Morrisons (7%, 13 Votes)
The Co-op (3%, 5 Votes)
Iceland (1%, 1 Votes)
Total Voters: 180