Marketing is an art form and nobody knows that artform better than the operators of grocery stores. You'll notice we put the word "tricks" in quotation marks in the headline because we don't want you to think your favorite place to buy food is maliciously tricking you into spending more money. They are simply making it easier for your own brain to come to that conclusion.

We all have to shop for the things that we need and while almost all of us are aware that must-have items like milk and dairy products are placed at the back of the store for a reason there are some other very subtle ways grocers use to get you to drop an extra dollar or two that maybe you really hadn't intended to spend.

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Getty Images

When is a Deal not a Deal?

The answer to that question is actually in the question itself, it's not a deal. It just looks like a deal. Have you ever seen a product offering 20% more and thought, "man, that's a great deal"? You forgot to ask yourself one important question, "20% more than what"? Sure a 20-ounce soda is technically 20% more than a 16-ounce soda but what about the price? Is it the same as the 16-ounce? Probably not. The best way to negotiate this strategy is to simply check the price and compare the sizes. Chances are you're actually paying more.

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What Items are Displayed Around the Item You Want to Purchase?

Grocery stores love to subliminally suggest items to you. For example, if you see marshmallows on display I bet you'll find a box of Graham Crackers and maybe a Hershey's chocolate bar on display nearby. Grocers know our minds and stomachs are connected to our eyes and when you see marshmallows you think campfire. When you think campfire you think S'mores. You get the idea. That's also the same reason you can usually find "family planning supplies" near the liquor aisle.

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Why is it Always Raining in the Produce Section?

That occasional misting that you see over your lettuce and carrots and tomatoes aren't done because those veggies need to be watered. It's your mouth the grocer wants watering and the best way to make vegetables look fresh is to give them a quick mist. Those tiny beads of water cascading down your rutabaga is certain to make you think these products just arrived from the farm covered in the morning dew. Chances are they spent a few weeks on a boat or a truck coming from another state or whole other country. Don't be fooled.


Those Cold Drinks Sure Are Convenient, Aren't They?

In the world of fast food, the product with the highest markup is soda. The same is basically true in the grocery store. Those single-serve sodas are just what you need before or after a long hour or two of trying to find the darn french-fried onions. Grocery stores love to advertise soda pop at a discount but that's usually for bulk purchases. Those single sodas are mighty pricey. You'll be money ahead if you satisfy your thirst before you shop or just wait until you get home to bust open that 12-pack you just bought.


You're Encouraged to Buy More Than You Need.

Sticking with soda pops, we all love a great deal on those, don't we? The tag says you can get a 12-pack for just $5. There is a caveat. You have to buy at least three 12-packs to get the savings. Suddenly your great deal just became a major win for the retailer. If you only need one, then buy just one. It really is that simple. You aren't really saving that much when you're forced to over-buy.

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You Buy What You See, Eye-Level is Buy-Level.

There is a reason the name-brand expensive cereal is priced right at your eye level. Marketers know that you and I are lazy and bending down to see a price or looking up to save is just not in our DNA. That's why the more expensive items or the items the grocer wants to sell you are always right where you're looking.

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Grocery Stores Aren't Tricking You, They're Just Being Smart

The marketing strategy of every store, grocery store, department store, liquor store, and convenience store is based on putting the items they want you to buy within your grasp in the most efficient way possible.

Just remember that little nugget when you go into shop next time. Before you make that easy reach just remember you're making it a lot easier for the retailer to reach into your pocket for more of your money. So, use that common sense that you were given. Buy what you need and buy what you want just remember those extra savings you crave could be one shelf down or hidden behind a sign offering savings on products you aren't in the market for.

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Gallery Credit: Stephanie Crist




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