You're headed to your go-to section of the grocery store: the cookie aisle, ice cream freezer, or snack section. As you grab a container of your favorite food, greasy potato chips or chocolaty brownies, your mind starts to drift off to the moment when you get home, sit down on the couch, and dig right in. But when you go to put the saturated fat- or sugar-laden guilty pleasure in your cart, you're quickly snapped back to reality. Your reflection is staring back at you from your shopping cart.
This might sound like a nightmare, even if your weight is in check. But researchers are testing out these grocery cart mirrors as a way to encourage shoppers to make healthier food decisions. According to The New York Times, this is just one way that stores may soon be trying to affect shoppers' behavior. Other ideas are bright arrows on the floor directing people to the produce section, divided baskets with all junk food placed further away, and signs stating the most popular fruits and veggies.
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The results of these studies show that these tactics are able to steer shoppers to the healthier parts of the store. In the case of the arrows, the customers will go left when the arrows go left, despite that retail research has shown that customers more often turn right. However strong these influences, though, they are not causing a spike in spending.
It's no secret that marketers turn our own psychology against us to heighten the effect of their campaigns, whether it's the chemically produced food smells enticing us to buy more or use of colors to affect our moods. But where do we draw the line between making a buck off impulse buys and shaming customers into making certain decisions?