5 dirty tricks supermarkets use to make you spend more money
Did you know supermarkets employ some cunning tactics to make you spend more money? Here’s how they do it and how to avoid being duped.
So, you thought the supermarkets were on your side, helping you save extra pennies whenever they can?
While there are lots of great deals that genuinely could save you a packet, don’t forget that supermarkets are out to make money from you, plain and simple.
From dodgy money-saving offers that don’t actually save you money to multi-buys that cost the same as buying individual items, supermarkets use sneaky marketing tricks to get their hands on your hard-earned cash.
Arm yourself with the facts below and think twice before grabbing that special offer.
Sneaky supermarket marketing strategies
From a clever supermarket floorplan to not-so-affordable deals, here are the sneaky supermarket secrets they don’t want you to know:
1. Floor layouts that make you spend more
It’s crazy, but you wouldn’t believe the amount of time and effort that goes into the supermarket layout – all with the intention of encouraging you to spend more cash. Here are just a few of the ways they get you:
Playing slow music to make you feel less rushed and happy to spend more time (and money) in the store
Putting healthy fruit and veg at the front so you shop there first and don’t feel guilty about the less healthy foods that go into your basket later
- Placing essential items at the back and far away from each other so you have to look for them (and come across a few things you don’t need but want to buy along the way)
- Keeping eggs in strange places so you end up on an egg hunt (and not the Easter kind)
- Stacking more expensive products at eye level and stocking popular combinations (like tortilla chips and salsa) next to each other to encourage you to get both
- Covering tills with last-minute ‘essentials’ to encourage impulse buying. Some supermarkets have even been known to lay smaller floor tiles along the aisles that have more expensive stock.
- So, the sound of your trolley wheels speeding up will encourage you to slow down and spend longer looking at the shelf items – mindblowing stuff, right?
2. Bogus BOGOF deals
The classic buy-one-get-one-free offer is a popular one. But while real BOGOF deals can be a steal, too often these offers are one of the many supermarket marketing tricks that don’t work in your favor. We’ve even seen situations where supermarkets have hiked the price of the item during the BOGOF deal, meaning it’s actually cheaper to look for the same item not included in the promotion. Take your time, look at individual prices and compare before you put something in your basket.
3. Multi-buy offers that won’t help you save money
Some multi-buy offers (where you’re told that you’ll save by buying in bulk) can’t be considered ‘offers’ at all. While they won’t cost you more, they often won’t save you anything either, meaning you’ve just been tricked into buying way more of a product than you intended to. For example, you might come across offers such as ‘3 for £3’ when the item is individually priced at £1 each anyway. This supermarket psychology tricks your brain into thinking you’ve got a good deal by getting more for your money, even if you don’t need (or want) it.
4. Top deals that aren’t that top
When walking around your supermarket aisles, it’s likely you’ll be inundated with lots of brightly colored signs for ‘top deals’, ‘lowest prices ever’, or other not-to-be-missed deals. While these are supposedly products that have been reduced to a cheaper price than normal, we recommend having a good look at what the original price of the item was. Research has found that many of these so-called ‘deals’ had been the same price for six months, while others had actually increased in price.
5. Leaving outdated promotions on display
A BBC investigation in 2017 found that Tesco had been particularly bad at keeping their displays up to date, leaving promotional branding up after deals have already ended. The result of their experiment was that they were overcharged for their purchases at 33 out of 50 stores they visited. We’re sure Tesco isn’t the only offender, either. Make sure you always check your promotion has been deducted at the check-out, and if not, show the display to a manager and ask customer services for your money back – that’s your right as a customer. Some supermarkets will even pay you to double the difference as a peace offering.