The placement of products in the supermarket, a war of which you are a victim

The placement of products in the supermarket, a war of which you are a victim

While the $100 basket of groceries is melting as fast as Quebecers’ purchasing power, the war is escalating at the grocery store to make us stretch out our arms and buy more. This is how the big chains are doing it.

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“Nothing is left to chance in the supermarket. The space war is fierce”, the two specialists with whom we spoke will often repeat.

In fact, the supermarket does not sell food, but space to suppliers. “It’s a showcase,” sums up Isabelle Marquis, a nutritionist specializing in food marketing.

“It’s like real estate. Except that space is very limited and the stakes are hard,” adds Jordan LeBel, a professor of food marketing with whom we visited a supermarket.


Space is sold by the square foot and linear foot. In addition to these costs, each manufacturer will have to pay to get their products into the grocery store (cost of ready) and will bear the promotional costs (for discounts on flyers).

A scientifically designed trip

In the corridors, everything is designed to make your basket bigger, be it with pyramids of products, the smell of the bakery or the colors of the containers.

The grocer’s bible to make us consume more than we want is the planogram. It’s the diagram of the grocery store, which maps out the path we want to take.

“The grocery store now competes with the restaurant. Right out the door, in the renovated grocery stores, there is ready-to-eat food, where the profits are much more interesting than in the middle of the grocery store,” explains Jordan LeBel.

Even the sense of smell is requested

It is not uncommon that in second place, before fruits and vegetables, we find the bakery.

“We bake bread during peak hours to make people more palatable,” says Ms. Marquis.

Regardless, there are some product pyramids that are prominently placed and sellers pay high prices.

Because the consumer follows the circuit and must decide immediately if he wants this product or not.

“The pyramids are there to make the basket bigger,” Jordan LeBel insists to the sound of Christmas music in the store.

There is also cross marketing, which consists, for example, of putting salad dressings in the fridge near the vegetables. They will sell for more than those on the shelves a little further away.

“Everything that is practical has a price in the grocery store,” sums up the marketing professor.

The shelves in the middle aisles of the grocery store have also been less frequented by consumers in recent years.

The perimeter is more.

“We keep the pint of milk well in the back of the store, it’s not for nothing. You will have been bombarded with 10 tempting offers before you get there,” says Jordan LeBel.

He often recommends that his students do the circuit in reverse.

“If you go in through the exit, you’ll see things you don’t normally see. Because we want you to do the circuit drawn on the planogram,” she advises.

Guided visit to a space where everything can be changed

“Many Canadians are unaware of the fact that in the food industry, suppliers have to pay grocers to do business,” food industry expert Sylvain Charlebois told members of the Standing Committee on Agriculture in Ottawa earlier this month. . Is that how it works.

the screens


Each display like this costs the vendor a small fortune, an amount that is passed on to the customer via their invoice.

Photo Julien McEvoy

Each display like this costs the vendor a small fortune, an amount that is passed on to the customer via their invoice.

The success of Favorite Chocolates has opened doors for him. “When your produce sells well, the grocery store gives you more space,” says Jordan LeBel. Here, a chocolate fondue display is set up right next to the freshly cut fruit. A way like any other to increase sales, by suggesting the purchase. “Maybe lift up and make your basket bigger,” says the expert. The display is on wheels and moves easily, which will happen if there are no sales.

Focus on impulsiveness


Open freezers are used to display items that you don't buy often or may never have made it home.

Photo Julien McEvoy

Open freezers are used to display items that you don’t buy often or may never have made it home.

Open freezers, or tombs, are an opportunity for shopkeepers to stock seasonal produce. Here, Christmas cakes that will disappear in January. “You don’t buy it every week and not every household buys it,” sums up Jordan LeBel. It is a product with low sales frequency and low penetration in homes, a category on which we rely to increase the basket. “But we won’t stop there, it will get you candles, either the $1.99 or the $5.99 ones,” adds the expert.

The linear foot sells expensive


The space at eye level on the shelves is worth more than the space near our feet.  The price of the products found there reflects this.

Photo Julien McEvoy

The space at eye level on the shelves is worth more than the space near our feet. The price of the products found there reflects this.

There is no absolute number that determines the value of shelf space, argues Isabelle Marquis. The cost that a manufacturer will have to pay is negotiated piece by piece and determined according to a set of conditions. Expected sales volumes, as well as those of brands already present in the coveted space, will influence, for example, the retailer’s asking price. Here, the hallway has five shelves. We note that products at eye level are more expensive. It is also where the price per linear foot and square foot of shelf is highest. It’s the same everywhere in the grocery store, whether it’s for meats or grains.

The pyramids


Product pyramids cost grocers next to nothing and are a great way to reach the consumer.

Photo Julien McEvoy

Product pyramids cost grocers next to nothing and are a great way to reach the consumer.

A manufacturer will have to pay the grocer to have its products sold in the store, in addition to paying for shelf space. A third important cost is added: that of promotions. “It is not the shopkeeper who reduces his margin when a product ends up on sale, he is the supplier”, sums up Isabelle Marquis. Promotional costs may also include special displays, such as a pyramid of products at the entrance of the grocery store. “When a category manager manages to charge a supplier for a pyramid, he’s very happy,” adds Jordan LeBel. Here, various panettones from different brands gathered in one place.

End of corridors


Beware of products at the end of the aisle, especially in the refrigerated area, because there are value-added products that will quickly inflate your bill.

Photo Julien McEvoy

Beware of products at the end of the aisle, especially in the refrigerated area, because there are value-added products that will quickly inflate your bill.

In the center of the store, end-aisle displays have been around for a while and are worth more than the space in the aisle itself. But we started to see them everywhere, even in the refrigerated hallways at the entrance. “They developed small shelves to sell more. We often put value-added products on it,” explains Jordan LeBel. Here on the right are resealable bags of olives for $5.69. Bulk olives would be sold much cheaper. Another way to “expand the basket”.


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