The Grocery Game | Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide

5 Ways Product Placement Affects Your Grocery Budget

grocery marketing

Grocery Stores Have You Hooked On Product Placement

Product placement at any Canadian grocery store will get you every time if you’re not paying attention.

Welcome and thanks for choosing “our store” now let me take your hand and help you spend some money.

That my friend is the invisible marketing host every store has to wait for you before you enter the store.

I’ll be your host today and show you just how these marketing magicians are able to get into your mind and your wallet.

Not all product placement is bad however it certainly is meant to capture the attention of the customer.

Spend or walk away, it’s your choice.

Product Placement Is Your Spending Map

The realms of product placement at the grocery store can be odd and if you’re not paying attention you may miss it but your wallet won’t.

Why is product placement critical to the success of the store?

Product placement is crucial because this is the silent host that speaks to you on behalf of the grocery store.

You’ll find that product placement also entices you to buy new products that you weren’t going to buy in the first place.

That is of course if you let them.

By the way, where is your grocery list?

Silent Product Placement Grocery Budget Killers

I’m going to talk to you more about how you can say goodbye to those silent budget killers that motivate you to spend money without knowing it.

Best Advice: Being aware of your surroundings is the best way to save money at the grocery store.

A grocery store is in the business to make money and to make sure your shopping experience is catering to your needs.

That’s what all customers want, an excellent experience that ends with a smile.

Management wants you to be a repeat customer so giving you the best deals around is part of their show.

Some stores will even price match to keep you away from competitors but there is more to it than that, much more.

Flyer Sales, for the most part, are loss leaders just to get you inside.

Keeping a customer with a few good sales that competitors aren’t having is a great way to snag a customer.

It’s not the only way and for that reason, many stores choose not to price match.

Over the years I’ve talked about everything from the smell of fresh cookies in the bakery from an air release of a coffee smelling scent to entice customers to spend money while grocery shopping.

Many people go into the grocery store to grab one item but come out with a shopping cart full.

Ditch The Giant Shopping Cart

What on earth are you doing with a shopping cart in the first place if all you needed was one product?

The reason is you are used to grocery shopping with a shopping cart and not a shopping basket.

Some people aren’t comfortable walking around the grocery store with products in their arms so the first thing they do is grab a shopping cart.

If you don’t have to pay for a grocery cart, even better because now you no longer have to fuss about looking for a quarter.

Now, you watch how fast that one product will end up being a full cart if you’re not careful.

This was something I noticed when I walked into the grocery store today so it’s not just product placement you have to be aware of its shopping necessities.

The shopping cart is the primary vehicle to get your products to the checkout.

A bigger car means more gas or in this case, more money spent on groceries.

There were no shopping baskets where the grocery carts are located.

The only place I typically find them is at the cash register check-out at the end of the belt before you put your food items on the belt.

You walk in the grocery store and you have to go to the cash registers to find yourself a basket to shop.

You’ve probably already passed a few aisles and have a couple of products in your hands.

Mission accomplished on the stores part.

They’ve just successfully manipulated you into buying something you likely weren’t going to buy in the first place and you let them.

Yes, you let them.

I always found that a bit odd although some grocery stores have the shopping baskets placed near the entrance but not outside or in a cubby with the other shopping carts.

That means you have to hunt it down and most people don’t have time for that so they grab a massive shopping cart and away they go.

See, you’ve just walked into the store and have been targeted with the grocery cart without even knowing you will be tempted to fill it.

Product Marketing Via Music

Then there is the music which is another non-placement item however it places you in the right mood to shop and spend more money.

Don’t worry this all matters and I’m getting to the good stuff just hang on!

Have you ever noticed that grocery store music tends to be lovey-dovey?

The theory, the faster the music the faster you shop, the slower the music the more you are tuned into your surroundings and take a better look at the products.

Of course, this all depends on time and if you don’t have the time it doesn’t matter if Maroon 5 is playing “She Will Be Loved ” or you’re rocking out to AC/DC’s Shook Me All Night Long” you’re still going to shop faster than normal.

This type of behavior almost always means you will buy something you didn’t intend on buying because product placement is very tricky and the displays talk to your subconscious even though you think I’m crazy telling you this.

It’s true…wait for it to happen next time you shop.

I bet you walk around the store, read products, and talk to yourself while doing it.

Also, while doing so you’re probably thinking about all the ways you can prepare food or when you would have time to eat it or would you eat something new.

There are so many pitfalls in the grocery store because they want you to spend more money.

It’s quite deceiving and why you need to be on your game to make sure you score a budget touchdown.

Just so you know I have no idea how Football in Canada is played but I can score a deal at the grocery store.

Let me show you.

Below are a few ways product placement is set out to nab your tummy and your cash!

Product Placement Inside and Outside

You haven’t even walked through the door yet strategical product placement sales are smiling you right in the face.

When you start your grocery trip you are possibly in a good mood and not bored of shopping yet.

That’s a good thing for the grocery store but they have all emotions covered with product placement.

At this point, the name of the game is to keep you enthused about shopping so keeping your eyes moving is important.

The minute you say that you are ready to cash out is when the store has stopped catering to your needs.

Nothing else has caught your attention, not even smell.

We’ve even been so lucky as to get free sausages from a Pillers Products Promo Truck outside the doors of the grocery store.

This manoeuver is smart because they not only make you happy by giving you “Free Food” now you are a potentially satisfied customer who will go and buy a package.

They’ve got your tummy and the same goes for in-store samples of new products.

The first thing you do when you go grocery shopping is to get your shopping cart and pull out your grocery list.

However, if the store can get your mind rolling before this even takes place the likelihood that you will grab something to put in your shopping cart will be successful.

Have you noticed how the stores take the seasonal approach the minute you walk in the door?

Just about every grocery store, we have been in had products for camping, BBQs and even beverages, marshmallows, chocolate, and even Freeze Pops.

You know who they are marketing to there, that’s right…the kids!

The weather is probably hot and humid and seasonal products motivate you to think about an upcoming camping trip, holiday, or backyard BBQ party.

These products are a win-win for the store and customer. You don’t have to go looking for them now.

Whether products are left outside the doors or just as you walk into the store where the shopping carts are left you are faced with the beginning of a long list of product placement strategies to get you to spend.

Most often the products you see outside are for the home and garden and are heavier so product placement of these items is crucial.

You are more likely to drive up and open your trunk to fill it with salt, soil, and other garden bags if they are outside the front doors.

The last thing you want to be doing is carting these products through the store.

It’s also easier to tell the cashier you would like 4 bags of water softener salt that is on sale rather than bringing in 4 bags or even just one bag to scan.

Most times the cashier doesn’t even need to scan the product depending on the Point of Sale System (POS) they have in-store all the need is a bar-code number.

This system is brilliant because it tracks everything to do with a customer’s shopping experience.

Rewards cards and other loyalty programs are a great way to learn about the spending habits of customers and how product placement will better serve the store.

Have a look next time when you walk through the doors to see exactly what products are staring you in the face.

I bet if you are hungry like most people who grocery shop you might not think twice about tossing in those fresh-baked cookies or muffins upon entrance.

Be aware.

Horizontal and Vertical Shopping- Product Placement

If you are walking down the grocery aisle do you walk up and down it twice?

Probably not because that is a waste of time on your part.

You do the head spin, back and forth, left and right. Unless of course time is on your side.

For most shoppers, it is not, so product placement on the shelves is crucial.

Depending on how tall you are you may look at what I’m about to talk about differently but for the most part, the pricier products will always be in the middle shelves or at eye level.

This is what they call the Bulls-eye or target area to nab the customer’s attention as does vertical shopping.


It makes you stop shopping to look around, up, and down.

If it does not then you keep on walking horizontally to see all the products at eye level and the grocery store loses business.

Product placement is crucial when it comes to marketing and shelving products.

Most companies will pay a premium for that Bulls-eye product placement.

You may shop a bit faster when you are horizontal shopping too which I noticed myself doing yesterday when I was looking for organic tortilla chips for an upcoming party.

I also tend to miss products I’m looking for and waste time going back looking for them when I shop like this.

If anything it might just upset me and they lose a sale because I say, “Ah forget it” I’ll find it somewhere else.

You know you’ve done that.

On the bottom shelves, you may find store brand products or even no-name products.

On the top shelves, I typically see unique products such as asparagus in vinegar or items that people don’t normally set out to buy regularly.

Next time you are grocery stopping note the way you shop up and down the aisles.

I bet you will learn something new about your shopping habits!

Product Placement That Help Sell Other Products

This is something we see all the time.

Let’s use the summer for example.

The other day I was in the meat department.

While looking around I noticed the following products where the frozen pre-made burgers were frozen fries and veggies.

Not only that but on the shelves or surrounding displays were these items:

  • Mustard
  • Ketchup
  • Mayo
  • Franks Red Hot Sauce
  • Relish
  • Buns
  • Chips

I don’t know about you but that sounds to me like the making of one heck of a BBQ party don’t you think?

Product placement is crucial for the shopper who doesn’t have time to look around the store.

If you need burgers and are in a rush what better place to find everything else you need in one spot.

I can also bet you that you will be paying top dollar for all those name brand products surrounding those burgers.

Sometimes we see sale displays but not often.

Don’t believe me?

Have a look next time you are in the fish and meat departments and see if you can make a full meal without leaving the section.

Get in and Get out! Some people hate grocery shopping and others just don’t have the time.

This product placement strategy is for you.

Odd Product Placements To Be Aware Of

How many times have you seen a product display in an aisle and ask yourself, why it is there?

It happens to me all the time.

The last time I was grocery shopping I was in the laundry aisle checking out the prices on the fabric softener and laundry soap.

I just happened to bump into a display case in front of the dish soap and looked down.

Why would they have a display for Nutri-grain bars in the cleaning section?

I know because everyone deserves a break when they are at home cleaning.

So, for this reason, grabbing something quick like a Nutri-grain bar is the perfect pick me up snack.

You bet boxes were missing from the display however I can’t confirm if that was another product placement ploy.

It seems fishy to make it look like others have bought this product for the same reasons you just came up with.

The store is playing to your emotional needs as a customer.

In the pet section recently I noticed a display of family size chocolate bars $3.99 and Minion Tic-Tacs for a whopping $4.99.

Not only do these lovely displays motivate the shopper to buy something out of their zone or grocery list they entice the kids to “bug their parents“.

The same goes when checking out and you are faced with tonnes of candy, pop, chocolate bars, gum, and a tonne of other household products.

It’s all the little things that add up and bust your grocery budget and the store knows this.

You may think they are trying to help you save and for the most part, they are but with product placement, you will soon realize that “You” are the reason you are spending more.

You are giving in to what I like to call, product placement, and the “Seduction of the Wallet“.

It’s a romance that you need to break otherwise you will spend more than anticipated.

Also, don’t be shocked when you see that number come up as your “Grocery bill total“.

Stick to the plan.

Don’t let that secret shopping host hold your hand all around the store.

Endcap Displays And Bunkers

There used to be a time when the end cap displays were always deals but these days it’s hit or miss.

I always look at the end caps because I believe I’m conditioned to do that.

I would always scan them all looking for deals.

These days the deals in our grocery stores are on a reduced rack and if you’re lucky on the end cap or down the aisle.

Why would the store NOT put sales on the end caps?

Well, let’s think about this for a second as there’s more to it.

If they put sales on the end caps the likelihood of you walking down the aisle is lowered.

You now do not need to shop down the aisle if you just found what you are looking for.

Why would the grocery store risk losing more business from you?

They need you to shop the aisles, they want you to spend money.

But wait a minute!

Most times the sales are on the end caps BUT not all of them and not all are flyer sales.

It’s a ploy to make you believe that you are always getting that ‘best price‘.

For example, I noticed cereal the other day with a regular price of $6.99 on sale for $2.99.

That inflated price is to make you believe you are scoring a deal.

Unless you venture down that aisle you may not know that.

Of course, if you know your prices then this won’t happen to you.

Have a look next time to see what the end caps hold and see if you are going to be spending.

Also, track whether you purchase something and if you are motivated to shop the aisle or you just move on to the next one.

Product Placement Conclusion

Grocery shopping is seemingly easy for the most part if you get in and get out based on your grocery list.

For those of you who are easily motivated product placement can be the death of your monthly grocery budget.

I’ve likely only skimmed the surface of marketing in the grocery store because I’m not a marketer.

However, what I am is a customer who is hyper-aware while shopping.

This means that everything I’ve explained today is what I’ve experienced during my grocery shopping adventures.

Most people have their minds on other things when they shop and for that reason, the store will play to your emotions whether you are in a good mood or not.

Food feeds the soul and it also keeps the store in business bringing in lots of profits.

Watch your wallet and tell that secret host you don’t need a helping hand because you’re a smart shopper.

Discussion: Have you seen any of the above while grocery shopping and does it influence what you buy? What other product placement ploys have you spotted and why do you think the store does this?

July Grocery Game Challenge posts

If you missed any grocery game posts for the month I will post the line-up for the month each week here in this section for you.

Join in the Grocery Game Challenge fun and post your grocery shop in the comment section of each blog post… here are the GGC rules!

Grocery Saving Tips

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I hope you take the time to get back on track and start the savings process in your grocery budget today.

Get organized with a FREE freezer inventory, meal plan, shopping list, price comparison list and much more all for FREE.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Update: The Grocery Game Challenge is no longer running 2020.

  • Grocery Game Challenge RULES: Read the rules first and if you have any questions email me or comment on this post with your question and someone will answer you as soon as possible.
  • Do I have to be Canadian to post my Grocery Shop?: No, you don’t have to be Canadian to post your shops only to win a monthly prize. We have fans who post their grocery shop who live all over the world.
  • When does the Grocery Game close each month?: The Grocery Game Challenge closes at midnight of the last Sunday of the last post for the month but you will still get a ballot when you post your shops even if they are late but I encourage you to stay on schedule. It’s a proven fact the minute we stop doing something that is scheduled that we end up forgetting to do it all together. Don’t let that be you! You can post your shops all month-long.
  • Does your Grocery Budget include health and beauty and laundry products?: Yes No, our Grocery Budget includes such items as shampoo, conditioner, laundry soap, fabric softener, dish soap, etc. As of 2014-2015 we no longer include such items in our grocery budget so we can see actual food numbers at the end of the year so we can plan accordingly for our budget. We don’t mind stockpiling items that won’t be affected by expiry dates or have long expiry dates but not so much food anymore. It’s just one way to help cut your budget to save money.
  • Canadian Coupons: Where can I find Canadian Coupons?: Here are your latest Checkout 51 offers that you can use to help you save money in the Grocery Game Challenge. There are many great Canadian Couponing websites online that share weekly coupon match-ups so you can plan your grocery list.
  • Best Coupon Apps: Coupons are slowly fading out but mobile coupon apps are the big rave these days. Just recently the popular coupon site that mailed coupons to households has gotten involved with their new mobile app joining forces with the many apps that are already out there.
  • What is an FPC?: An FPC is a free product coupon which means you can get a free product as described on the coupon.
  • What is GGC?– The Grocery Game Challenge of course!
  • How Do I Grocery Shop?: I can tell you about grocery shopping and what we do in terms of shopping to save money and how it works for us. There are no wrong or right answers, just smart choices.

Over time you will gradually learn where you should and shouldn’t go in the grocery store or at least how to say no, I’m on a budget I need to buy this or that.

You may also substitute items to stick to your grocery budget to make it work. Nobody is perfect, heck we struggle with this part of our budget as many people do.

This is why the grocery game challenge was created to not only show you that we are like everyone else but to bring us all together to work as a team to get our budgets on track.

If you have just joined The Grocery Game Challenge 2015 get ready to dive deep into your grocery budget and learn just where you are spending, how much you are spending, and what you are saving.

Feel free to read all the above posts that I linked to above which I feel are relevant to learning about the grocery budget and grocery shopping in general.

If you are brave and want to learn everything I know about grocery shopping in Canada check out my Ultimate Grocery Shopping Guide! It’s FREE!

You’ve made a wise decision to take control of your grocery budget now show me your shops and let’s get saving!

Welcome to The Grocery Game Challenge 2015!

Join in and become money savers and take control of your grocery budget.


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