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How your local grocery store is designed like a casino

When you walk into a grocery store, one of the first things you’ll notice is the layout: rows and rows of organized merchandise separated by dividers. It’s so familiar that we almost take it for granted. After all, we expect most grocery stores to have a standard layout.

But when you take a closer look at how a typical grocery store is designed, you’ll find that there are several unusual features that set these stores apart from other retail locations. Grocery stores frequently use layouts that mimic slot machines and casinos to help drive impulse purchases and encourage shoppers to stay longer than they planned.

The color psychology of a grocery store

In a grocery store you might notice that the products are all arranged in neat rows and that the aisles are brightly lit. From there, it’s not hard to see that the store is trying to trick you into making impulse purchases. Color psychology is tricky stuff, but grocery stores are particularly good at using it to their advantage.

For example, red items are more likely to be impulse purchases; orange items are more likely to be long-term purchases; while green items are likely to be somewhere in the middle. It’s easy to see how all these colors can trick you into spending more money than you intended.

Hidden prices and mark-ups

If you’re looking for a new way to convince shoppers to spend more money, you might try offering bargain prices and hidden mark-ups. That’s exactly what many grocery stores do. But instead of prices that are marked up by a few dollars, these stores often mark up their products by hundreds or even thousands of percent.

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Sometimes, they also use hidden prices, which are different from regular prices but can be found with a little digging. Hidden and regular prices are common in the food industry. Many grocery stores are sneaky about it and advertise “regular” prices that, when you dig a little deeper, turn out to be “regular” prices with a hidden markup.

The neuroscience of a casino

If you really want to get people excited about your products, you might want to consider installing one of those shiny new self-serve grocery store checkout lanes. Who knows, they might even play a little music while you wait. Snacks, magazines, and other distractions might encourage you to make a few extra purchases while you’re there.

And the checkout lane might help you spend more money in other ways. For example, checkout lanes often encourage you to keep buying stuff when you get home. Some stores even tack a few items to your bill automatically.

A twist on the Rule of Odds

Casinos are well-known for using the rule of odds, but many grocery stores are experimenting with it as well. They might choose to use this approach to give customers big discounts on items they tend to buy, such as toilet paper or cleaning supplies. It’s the same trick that casinos make with their no deposit bonus offers.

For example, the price of a 12-pack of toilet paper might be marked up at 25% or more. However, the last two items might come free with a $10 purchase of the first 11. This way, you might “save” $1 when you buy the first 10 toilet paper rolls and feel like you’re getting a good deal.

The treadmill gap

Grocery stores often seem like they’re designed to make you as miserable as possible. You might be forced to walk for miles, walk past tempting products that you can’t buy, or walk by tempting food that you can’t eat. To make things worse, many stores also have a natural tendency to make you feel rushed.

Shops are stuffed with temptation

Even if you’re shopping in a generic grocery store, you’ll notice that the products are arranged in a way that makes them look more enticing than they really are. That might be because they are more enticing; they might be arranged in a way that hides their true value; or they might be arranged in a way that makes them seem more appealing.

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