Product Placement and the Price Customers Pay

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

Despite what they say in their advertisements, stores aren't out to save shoppers money. Their business is to make money, and the better they are at doing just that the more profitable the franchise. Often by saving money on one item a customer is tempted to spend more on another item since it was "saved money." By becoming familiar with stores' tactics, it becomes easier to avoid the temptation.


Eye Level Shopping

Stores plan displays carefully. They know the average height of a shopper, and they plan those eye level shelves slyly. Walk down the cereal aisle of a supermarket and inspect the layout. Eye-catching, brand name products are at eye-level while the store brand is usually above or below. Look at the bottom shelf. Kids cereals tend to be placed lower to meet kids' eye levels, leaving the healthier adult cereals at the adults' height.

Sale items are also placed at the eye-level. Often the sale item looks reasonable, so a shopper won't ever look below that shelf. The store brand item which costs less without the sale is below eyelevel, and therefore rarely noticed.


Many department stores count on the store layout to do the selling. Flanking the walkway are clothing displays that claim to be "hot spring fashions" or "new styles." For the repeat customer, it is nothing new to know that these items will be replaced with other items in a few weeks. The stores are playing the game of "get it while it's here or it'll be gone." What only the savvy shopper will know is that in a few weeks these items can be found in the corners of the department and often at a much lower price than they started.


Be patient and buy later. Styles don't fade after only a few weeks.

Spontaneous Purchases

Most people know about the temptation of items in the checkout line. Known as impulse buying, the idea is to add a few more items to a purchase at that last moment. Stores make thousands of dollars on impulse buys in checkout lines, and their placement of the items shows that they know about it. Look at the selection for a moment. Candy? Magazines? While waiting in line the brain is idle and it convinces itself that these items are needed. Instead, save a task for waiting in line such as sorting coupons or making next week's meal plan while the contents of the store are fresh in mind. Avoid reading magazines that spark interest and end up on the conveyor.

There are other types of impulse buying that profit stores. Salsa is marketed alongside chips, and ice cream cones are displayed on racks in the ice cream aisle. Ask yourself these two questions: Is a more cost efficient brand available in the aisle where these products are usually displayed? Do I really need cones to go with my ice cream anyway?


Cakes, pastries, and other luring goodies are also found in the aisles at the end of the grocery store. By this time shoppers are tired and often hungry. The temptation of the sugary snacks is too much, and yet another purchase is made. Resist by eating before leaving the house or shopping the store "backwards" and ending by the paper goods rather than the bakery.

By keeping the stores' selling tactics in mind, a shopper can avoid overspending. Before leaving for the store create a list and stick to it. It's when a person strays from that list that stores are happy.

About The Author: Kelly Ann Butterbaugh is a freelance writer who regularly contributes to a variety of magazines as well as online newsletters. She teaches writing in the public school as well as at the collegiate level. Contact her at or visit her website at


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April 24, 20060 found this helpful

I find I spend less if I work the store in the opposite direction than is "usual." I start at the end farthest from the doors (usually where the dairy is) and work back to the produce. I tend to get very little in the aisles following the produce. I find very little going into my cart and tend to add things because it seems like it's going to be a light week and I can afford to buysome extras. But by the time I'm at the other end of the store, where most of the things on my list are, I've spent a fortune.

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