Shopping as a science


Aisles, consumer patterns, studies and facts. It’s all logistics coupled with the science of consumer behaviour.

– selecting good wholesome fresh food is an uplifting way to start shopping, and it makes people feel less guilty about reaching for the stodgy stuff later on
– placing popular items halfway along a section so that people have to walk all along the aisle looking for them. The idea is to boost “dwell time”: the length of time people spend in a store.
– the wafting bread aroma shows smell can usefully be stimulated too
– branded products from the big producers are arranged at eye-level while cheaper ones are lower down, along with the supermarket’s own-label products.

PROBLEM: People say they leave shops empty-handed more often because they are “unable to decide” than because prices are too high

So what to do? Persuade, make offers, eye-level placing, price tags, better service, better quality? All of the above and more…

Extracts from The Economist print edition: The Science of Shopping – Dec 18th 2008

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