Nudged to the Produce Aisle by a Look in the Mirror

Michael Moss

Scientists are beginning to study ways to get shoppers to buy more produce, but grocers and their suppliers have already spent years perfecting strategies to sell processed foods. Here’s a sampling of tactics:

THE SWEETEST ITEMS are sold at eye level, midway along aisles, where shoppers’ attention lingers longest.

THE ENDS OF AISLES are huge revenue generators, especially for soda, which makes 45 percent of its sales through racks there, according to the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council.

IMPULSE PURCHASES (60 percent of purchases are unplanned) can be encouraged by placing items next to checkouts.

FREE-STANDING DISPLAYS are also effective toward the rear of the supermarket and on the left side of aisles. Research cited by the Coca-Cola council shows that shoppers move through the store counterclockwise, from the back to the front; in the aisles, they buy items mostly from shelves to their left.

SPRINKLING THE SAME PRODUCT throughout the store, rather than grouping it in one spot, will boost sales through repetitive exposure.

GROUPING THE INGREDIENTS for a meal in one spot can attract home cooks pressed for time.

POSTING HEALTH-RELATED INFORMATION — online, and on kiosks and shelf tags — can link groceries to good health in shoppers’ minds, even though only 23 percent of them say they always look for nutritional information on labels.

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MARKETINGSandra Ishkanes