Psychology plays most important role in shopping

David Bernstein wrote some wise words in his Private View column (DW 24 October). But he really ought to try shopping at my local Asda where I haven’t noticed the floor plan change in the past five years. A rapid shopper’s heaven indeed, but obviously a system that Asda is happy to live with.

How then do they defeat customer habit? And additionally, this must surely increase the need for truly outstanding packaging design even further.

To help counteract this, supermarkets could stimulate the shopper more incisively by replacing the current parallel aisle system with a more invigorating floor layout, one that actually encourages the shopper to wonder helplessly, even get lost, as they do in some other European countries.

The up-one-aisle, down-the-next concept is older than the supermarket itself. I hate Asda for this reason, but I love it too because of its qualities.

True, packaging design will likely sell the product more if it has been better executed than on the product it lies next to.

But as you look, what initially stands out and says ‘Buy me’? Not the wording telling you that it’s been organically made, or the graphical layout of the product name and description.

More so, it’s the atmosphere that a particular section of shelving creates towards you and the way in which you, as an emotional being, personally accepts its arrangement.

You could have the best packaging design in the world, award-winning even, but if the product just to the left of it is just your favourite shade of blue, or complements the way you feel at that point in time, then you’ll probably just buy that one instead.

Anyway, what about good old fashioned pricing as a selling point? OK, that’s marketing and not design, but wouldn’t it be good if that new product you wanted to try was tagged with the price that you’d normally pay? Just a thought, but the packaging design might get a second glance then.

Designers can only do so much, no matter what consultancy they work for. And this is perhaps where the producer/ supermarket operator collaboration could be made to work harder, concentrating on not just one product or another, but the entire shopping experience as a whole.

Who can honestly say they like food shopping? Not me. We buy fmcgs because we have to, not because we want to. Just a shame it’s not the other way round.

Robin Mackie



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