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Shelf placement: Position is key

Ever notice how you just can’t avoid buying some items at the supermarket, even if they were not on your list to begin with?

Just think about that aisle of temptation on your way to the cashiers, yes, we’re talking about the dreaded sweet rack, who can resist that? The truth is that there is a science to this, and shelf placement relies on some common human psychology facts.

The trick then is for racking and shelving manufacturing companies to use this to their advantage, which they often do without you even realising it.

Within any supermarket, there is a set design on the layout, known as a planogram, guaranteed to maximise sales and encourage consumers to spend as much as possible. This planogram dictates where and how items should be placed for maximum exposure.

As a general rule of thumb, objects at eye level are the most commonly bought, so these shelves are seen as prime real estate, and often contain the pricier items or leading brands. Some retailers go so far as to charge an additional fee to products requesting this placement.

The lower shelves are reserved for store brand (no name brand) and bulk products. This isn’t just due to weight considerations (racking and shelving manufacturing companies build shelves capable of supporting various weights) these items are of less importance to retailers, who know that bargain hunters will hunt for them anyway.

The top shelf is reserved for smaller items and ones perceived as luxury or gourmet. The higher placement reinforces their perceived superiority. Products aimed at children are often placed at their eye level, because few moms can deny their little darlings’ demands.

The planogram also takes into account groupings of selected items which would usually be used together and thus maximises sales on both products. For example, you often find long life milk alongside cereals. Cheese and cold meats are often near the bread. This is not a coincidence.

Even the very layout of the store is designed for maximum impact. Have you ever noticed how the flowers are placed near the entrance as well as the fresh produce? This is to attract your eyes as well as give the store a fresh, colourful appearance. Let’s not get started on the delicious aroma of baked goods which inevitably stirs up your appetite. Hungry shoppers are good shoppers. Consider this the next time you go shopping, you’ll be amazed at what you see.


Image credit: theguardian