Grocery Shopping: Men Lost Without Grocery Lists (cont.)
"I am optimistic about people's ability to handle things," Rotfeld tells WebMD. "People go in with their coupons and their lists. It's not a free-for-all."
Getting More From the Store
Rotfeld's optimism notwithstanding, there's lots of room for error. That's because two-thirds of our grocery-shopping decisions are made in the store, says Barbara E. Kahn, PhD, director of the Wharton undergraduate division and Dorothy Silberberg Professor of Marketing at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
"People come in with a general idea of what they are going to buy, but their lists tend to be vague," Kahn tells WebMD. "When decisions are made in the store, you are vulnerable to cues such as corner displays, big red 'Value!' arrows, and other in-store merchandising."
Some of these cues result in impulse buying. A true impulse buy is hard to resist. That's because it's not a conscious act.
"Impulse buying is an emotional, almost out-of-control sort of desire to grab something right now without much thought for its consequence," Mick says.
But cues also get us to make unplanned purchases. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. A big red arrow, for example, may alert us to a good buy on our favorite kind of soup. We may not have planned to buy soup, but we can save a little by picking up a couple of cans now, so why not?
On the other hand, these are the kinds of sensible-seeming decisions that later make a person -- or a spouse -- say, "What were you thinking?"
Here are the experts' tips on how to get more from your trip to the store:
And, of course, there's that thing you should never tell your spouse.
"The worst time to shop is on the way home from work when it's been a long time since lunch and you're hungry for dinner. Everything in the store is going to look really good," Stewart says. "If you have somebody who is basically undisciplined, and their spouse says, "Pick up something for dinner" -- that is a risky proposition."
SOURCES: David W. Stewart, PhD, Robert E. Brooker Professor of Marketing, Marshall School of Business, University of Southern California. David Mick, PhD, Robert Hill Carter Professor of Marketing, McIntire School of Commerce, University of Virginia; president-elect, Association for Consumer Research. Barbara E. Kahn, PhD, director, Wharton undergraduate division and Dorothy Silberberg Professor of Marketing, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. Wesley Hutchinson, PhD, Stephen J. Heyman professor and professor of marketing, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; past president, Association for Consumer Research. Herbert Jack Rotfeld, PhD, professor of marketing, Auburn University; editor, Journal of Consumer Affairs. Customer Focus 2002: Retail, December 2002.
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