When we say that local grocery stores mimic the design of casinos, we do not imply that the displays look like slot machines and roulette tables. Nor are we asserting that the ambiance is like that of casinos. It is something much more subtle. Today, grocery stores are using the same management techniques as casinos to hold their patrons within their four walls for as long as possible and to entice them to make purchases that are most favorable to the establishment.
Though our article is specifically about grocery stores, these are not the only ones taking advantage of the design practices based on the latest consumer psychology research and honed to perfection at the best casinos in the world.
Guiding the Movement of Patrons
Consumer behavior expert Vasillis Dalakas, from California State University, says, “Nothing in grocery stores happens by accident.” The path that customers take within the store are designed to keep them in and there are several tricks that grocery stores have learned from casinos.
Bring Them in First
Casino entrances are grand affairs with open layouts, tempting even casual pedestrians to walk in and try the fare. Though grocery stores cannot afford such grandiose entrances, they are no longer dull and unnoticeable. You have floral displays, bright posters, fresh samples and uncommon products visible from the sidewalk. The regulars will come anyway, but this invites others to do their shopping here.
Walk the Walk
Most casinos have one-way entrances and exits. Once you come in, you have to pass through all the table rooms and slots arcades before you can leave. The casino makes sure that you have ample opportunities to give in to temptation. Grocery stores use the same separate entrances and exits technique. The checkout counters are usually placed just before the exits. Even if you pick up your products at the first display, you cannot cut across to the checkouts. You have to walk through the entire store. If something catches your fancy on the way then you might buy it, even though you had no intention to do so.
Regular patrons would pick up staples like bread, milk, butter and eggs together. You will not find all these products in one place in the store, even though that would suit the buyers. They are all positioned away from each other so that you stop at different locations in the store and maybe pick up some other items as well. Casino experts, NoDepositKings.com, have seen this style of design in many other types of stores.
All casinos and grocery stores cannot have linear layouts and different areas may be arranged in branched formats. There are design tricks here as well to make patrons walk through the entire area. Amenities like washrooms and vending machines are located at the establishment’s furthest reaches, making sure patrons pass more temptations along the way.
Placement Holds the Key
Which product goes on which shelf at which location in the store is not a random choice. Nor are such decisions made at the store manager level. These are based on an understanding of consumer psychology arrived at after rigorous market research exercises.
Anti-Clockwise Is the Right Direction
Contemporary research shows that objects to our left catch our attention more than those to our right. So, the correct movement is to guide customers in an anti-clockwise direction. This is done by strategically placing attractive posters and displays. The products that the store wants to push will then be placed on the left assuming the anti-clockwise movement, giving them a greater chance to be noticed and hence purchased. Casinos use the same planning in slots arcades where the slots machines that are likely to yield higher returns to the casino are placed on the left.
Level Matters a Lot
Stores use the full wall space and have 5 to 6 shelves one below the other. While walking by, most buyers will be looking at shelves that are at eye level and avoiding the slightly more inconvenient glances to the higher and bottom shelves. The entire set of shelves at one location would have the same product, but the premium brands would be at eye level and the cheaper brands at the bottom. There are some products where children are decision-makers, like breakfast cereals and chocolates. Here the premium products would be at the children’s eye level so that they can persuade the parents to make a purchase.
Casinos do not have an exactly corresponding situation, but you will find the higher stakes tables nearer the entrances and the minimum bet tables somewhere inside in a corner.
The Feel-Good Factor Is Important
The more time you spend in a casino or grocery store, the more you will play or purchase. And you will spend more time if you are made to feel good there. Both casinos and stores have many tricks to create a feel-good factor.
Erase the Sense of Time
There are two ways people sense the flow of time. The first is through wall clocks. Shoppers who inadvertently glance at clocks would be reminded that there are other things to be done and be compelled to buy the essentials and move on. They can obviously look at their watches or smartphones, but the idea is not to facilitate this. So many grocery stores have done away with wall clocks.
The second indicator of time is the changes in the natural sunlight. So, grocery stores either do not have windows or use heavily tinted glass, with artificial light instead.
Music Leads to Higher Buys
The minute you spend in an elevator gets more comfortable if there is piped music in the background, so why not grocery stores or casinos. A study conducted by the American Marketing Association showed a 38% increase in sales for grocery stores that played music compared to those that did not. Casinos also employ background music effectively. Studies show that pop music from the last decade works best to help players relax just enough, but not too much.
Check It out Yourself
Next time you go to a casino or a grocery store be on the lookout for these factors that influence how much time and money you spend there. If you are discerning then you are likely to come across points not taken up by us as well.