3 Sneaky Tricks to Avoid at the Grocery Store (and Keep More of Your Money)

Updated August 10, 2020 by Kyle
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It’s no secret that stores have gotten very good at tricking you into thinking you’re getting a great deal, especially on items you had no intention of buying in the first place. Whether it’s stocking items at a certain eye level, or using the numbers on the price tag to trick your brain, retailers are experts at separating you from your money.

I recently read an article from Consumer Reports that talked about 3 grocery stores tricks that I had never heard of before, all of which made me think even deeper about what stores are doing. Below are the 3 tricks to be aware of, and what you can personally do to combat each one.

Cereal Aisle

Free Samples Lead to Reciprocity

According to a recent study done by the University of Virginia, shoppers are 5x’s as likely to buy whatever tastiness is being doled out via free samples than if they had just walked on by. This comes to down a natural sense of reciprocity in human-beings.

In other words, “The lovely lady at Costco handing out samples was just so darn nice, and the tortellini with parmesan cheese sprinkled on it was delicious, so sure I’ll buy a ten pound bag!”

I feel this way every time I take a free sample at Costco, so I just stopped doing it.

Keep in mind that the person handing out free samples is NOT paid based on how many units they sell. You don’t have to buy the tortellini to keep her off the park bench tonight wrapped in newspaper.

Pay Attention to Cartoon Character’s Eyes

Also from the study, if a cartoon character on a box of cereal or kid’s snack looks directly at you, it increases your brand trust by over 15%. Crazy.

While ConsumerReports does not explain what this actually means to shoppers, I personally think the increased brand trust means you could become a little more price insensitive. Something worth considering, especially if you have kids.

Come to think of it, maybe this is why I will pay darn near anything for a box of delicious Fruity Pebbles…old Fred Flintstone is always starting right at me, burning a hole straight to my soul.

Beware of Price Cuts on Sugary Snack

According to a study done by the urban health center in Philadelphia, a price cut in sugary snacks bumped sales by an astounding sixfold. The most amazing part of the study was that a price cut on healthy produce hardly increased sales at all.

If you fall into the category of shoppers who’ll stock up on junk food when it goes on sale, Consumer Reports suggests rationing it at home by repackaging it into smaller containers and “store it away for 48 hours” so you don’t binge eat every last crumb.

Ask the Reader: So what’s your take on these three grocery store “tricks”? Do you think they’re lame and only a fool would fall for them, or can you relate to any of them?

Check out the Consumer Reports article below to see all the details:

3 grocery store tricks to watch out for | Consumer Reports

Photo by Mike Mozart.


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