Psychology of the Grocery Store

Learning about shopper trends is one of the best ways for consumer businesses to stay on top of their marketing and advertising approach. By analyzing consistent consumer data, all businesses can form lasting relationships with their customers and use the information to allow their own companies to grow. In the infographic below, the University of Southern California’s Online Master of Science in Applied Psychology degree took a closer look at the psychology used to sell to consumers in grocery stores around the U.S.

Psychology of the Grocery Store

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<p style="clear:both;margin-bottom:20px;"><a href="" rel="noreferrer" target="_blank"><img src="" alt="Psychology of the Grocery Store" style="max-width:100%;" /></a></p><p style="clear:both;margin-bottom:20px;"><a href="" rel="noreferrer" target="_blank">University of Southern California </a></p>

Shopper Trends

On average, United States households spend up to ten percent of their available income on food and groceries. This amounts to roughly $105 every week, with the average trip to the supermarket costing almost $50. This data was collected in 2012 and remains relatively unchanged up to the modern day. Though consumers will frequently spend this amount on their trip, there are many different factors they consider in their purchases. No two customers are always the same, though spotting trends can help businesses notice similarities that directly relate to their products and goods.


78% of all shoppers report that when they go shopping, they spend most of their time reading the nutrition labels to make a better purchase. Many shoppers also report to spend additional money on organic products for their benefits. Often shoppers also take the time invest in local businesses and shop for goods that are either locally produced or manufactured. 64% of the shoppers that participated in these studies said that they focus on the nutrition labels. 48% reported to watch out for local products specifically. Finally, 30% are more interested in paying for organic products when they are available.

Unplanned Purchases in the Store

Consumers have reported to leave approximately $11 free during their trip to make room for some unplanned or unexpected purchases. This plays a significant part in the consumer data, as studies show that three out of every four grocery store shoppers will make some type of purchasing decisions while they are in the store itself. This is outside of their shopping lists and planned purchases. 64% of consumers have said that they have always been comfortable purchasing private or store owned brands, with many consumers making their purchasing decisions for the brand while they shop.

The Top Marketing Tactics

Studies show that in order to effectively captivate their consumers' interests, manufacturers focus on a variety of marketing tactics for their products. Many of these tactics are obvious, while others are less so, relying on subconscious cues and subliminal messages to encourage customers to shop with them.


The location of the products can play a significant role in the way that the consumers shop for them. The ends of the aisles are reported to be among the most profitable sections to place products. Often, manufacturers will pay an additional premium to have their products placed there because studies show that customers are often interested in what they will find at the end of the aisle.


Although it might not seem like it would have a large effect, the color of the products can make a significant difference as well. Colors can have a symbolic significance in the products, which will affect the decision making process. Consumers will frequently be on the lookout for brighter colored products, while many colors have individual themes that lend advantages to the products themselves. Colors like purple, black, and gold can all convey certain themes and messages that encourage consumers to shop and browse.

Nutritional labels play a significant part in the purchasing process as well. Customers will often try to make the healthier choice, and these nutritional labels can be a great way to market a product. If the product is particularly healthy, it can bank on that quality for more purchases.


There are many buzzwords that marketers use to sell products. Words such as organic and fat free can make a significant difference in the purchase, especially if it is what the customer is looking for anyway. These words can be combined with the nutritional labels for added effect.


Sometimes, especially in regards to children's products, there are many characters and themes that can be present on the packaging to help sell the product. Famous brand characters, such as those in cereals and other products, create a more solid and reliable image, which encourages shoppers to buy those products.


Finally, the packaging itself can play a significant role in the way that the product is marketed. Studies show that details such as transparent packaging can help make the product more desirable. Sometimes, if the packaging takes on a more unique form than is typical, customers are encouraged to purchase it.