The following excerpt, from the article Supermarket Psychology, was written by Brett Graff, and published in the Miami Herald. The research that the article is based on offers insight for college stores to consider when creating in-store displays.View the full article for more conclusions drawn from the study. Take a look:
To help South Florida shoppers stock up for their Fourth of July barbecues, Publix supermarkets — and most likely grocers around the country — prepare displays grouping together holiday favorites.
Some stores may cap aisles with marshmallows, chocolate and graham crackers so customers can buy S’more ingredients in seconds. While other locations could pair together chips and beer or ice cream and chocolate sauce.
Those combinations will have a subliminal effect that causes us to think products were perfectly paired together in the same way a sommelier selects a meal’s wine or engineers code computer software, according to new research. In addition to our faith in displays, the research says we shoppers believe that our everyday brands design and test products — such as chips and salsa or toothpaste and toothbrushes — so they work best with the complimentary product of the same brand.
“The more complimentary products a brand has the more you get hijacked by that brand to pay their prices,” says Ryan Rahinel, a researcher at the University of Minnesota who decided to study this effect after finding himself crossing the border to Canada so his over-the-counter skin therapy products were manufactured by the same company.
Rahinel and his team performed a series of experiments, first dividing subjects into four groups and serving each one a combination of chips and salsa from make-believe brands, Festivities and Party Time. While two groups ate one brand of chips dipped into another’s salsa, the two groups that sampled both chips and salsa from the same brand reported much having higher levels of enjoyment. Even though all four groups were actually just served the exact same Tostidos chips and Tostidos salsa.
“We were able to create out of thin air that there is this idea that brand combination creates enjoyment,” Rahinel says.
They also in the lab backed our supermarket’s decision to display complimentary products using spreadable cheese and cracker snacks. By simply snipping the plastic and separating the two, they lowered their tasters’ level of satisfaction.
Sounds unfounded, but beliefs are actually critical components to our enjoyment, says Joseph Redden, an assistant professor of marketing at University of Minnesota who coauthored the study.