Ireland’s Guide To Money And Living

Steps to savvy shopping

Savvy shopping

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Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post from Phillip Adcock, commercial psychologist and author of Supermarket Shoppology and Master Your Brain.

Whenever I talk with shoppers and consumers, they always tell me that they are smart, shrewd and efficient shopping ‘machines’. And these people sincerely believe that they are savvy shoppers. But all the evidence paints a very different picture.

Know yourself

Here is an interesting exercise that you can do to determine just how savvy a shopper you are. What percentage of the items you buy are just regular grab and go repeat purchases? You know, those things you just see, grab and drop into your trolley. The ideal answer here is ‘none’ because the prices in supermarkets change much more than you’d think. Typically, more than 1,000 prices are changed each week.

The next question to consider is this: How often do you switch between brands? Before you proclaim that you always seek out value, take a look at your till receipt from a recent big shop. What percentage of the items on it were different brands or pack sizes compared to what you normally buy? Be honest with yourself, how many of the purchases did you actively consider and weigh up alternatives for while standing in the store?

End of aisle specials

Let’s now explore the murky world of special offers for this next question. Do you buy products from the promotional gondola ends at the ends of the aisles? If so, do you also check the prices of competing products in the main aisle for that category? Because often, stores will run gondola end promotions for their benefit and the amount of money they make from them from their suppliers. Shock, horror, they aren’t there to do you a favour.

The lesson here is always take the time to check that the offer on the gondola end is actually the best available. Often there are better deals to be had in the main area for that type of product.

Seeing red

Staying with special offers, how often are you drawn to those promotional brightly coloured special offer tickets in-store? If they are red and white, then you are biologically programmed to look at them. Unfortunately, our brains haven’t evolved to handle the massive choice we are faced with in supermarkets. So, we tend to seek out shortcuts; and by shopping the products with promotional price labels helps us do that. But very often it doesn’t help us to be savvy shoppers. For example, a well-known brand of rice may be reduced from €2 to €1.50, but an equally good product might well be on

Unfortunately, our brains haven’t evolved to handle the massive choice we are faced with in supermarkets. So, we tend to seek out shortcuts; and by shopping the products with promotional price labels helps us do that. But very often it doesn’t help us to be savvy shoppers. For example, a well-known brand of rice may be reduced from €2 to €1.50, but an equally good product might well be on shelf for its normal price of €1 (any people who buy Uncle Ben’s, look away now).

Step out of that comfort zone

Now for the fifth and final question, what percentage of the products you buy are the cheapest available? And not just between different store chains, but within that very store. Although you may now be shouting ‘but I don’t like the taste/quality of that cheaper one’, answer this one supplementary question: How many of the cheaper alternatives have you really ever tried?

Unfortunately, our brains are lazy. You need to try a little harder if you really want to be a savvy shopper. Not only are you taking on the marketing might of the major brands and retailers, but you also have to constrain and harness your own brain. But if and when you do, there are fantastic savings to be made.

Savvy shopping

Phillip Adcock is a commercial psychologist and author of Supermarket Shoppology and Master Your Brain.

Both are available on Amazon.

 

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When not writing about all things personal finance, You & Your Money's editor Conor Forrest enjoys reading, football and getting lost in an ocean of Wikipedia articles.
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