It’s All in the Layout
“I just need to stop at the grocery store to grab a few things.” That’s what you said on the cell phone almost an hour ago, yet here you stand, stocked shopping cart before you, waiting in the checkout line and quieting your pangs of hunger with salt-and-vinegar potato chips.
“Two-thirds of what we buy in the supermarket we had no intention of buying,” says consumer expert Paco Underhill, author of Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping ($16, amazon.com). Supermarkets not only rely on such behavior; they encourage it. Every aspect of a store’s layout—from the produce display near the entrance to the dairy case in the back to the candy at the register—is designed to stimulate shopping serendipity. To explain how store geography influences your spending, we enlisted a team of merchandising experts to map out a typical supermarket, identifying the booby traps to help you emerge with exactly what you need and want, and not a single potato chip more.