[ARTICLE] How are we influenced as food consumers?

Riana Torrejon, Science Expo Ambassador | H.E. Beriault Catholic School | May 11th 2015

When it comes to purchases, our choices as consumers can be influenced by several factors like packaging, labels, accessibility or affordability. Everything is designed to stand out to us. This is most often shown during grocery shopping and in fast food places where we most often access our food.

Items are often placed strategically in grocery.
Items are often placed strategically in the grocery store. It is best to be aware of these tactics as consumers.

Grocery Shopping
In grocery stores, while we are grocery shopping, there’s a strategic placement of products to force us to look around the store. Stores will place essential grocery items like milk at the back of the store to ensure we pass through their aisles. As well, when you pay at the register, there will be conveniently situated chocolate bars and last- minute grabs you can add to your cart there.

While walking through the aisles, you will be distracted by the different colors surrounding you, and you’ll be more likely to make a purchase on impulse or emotion. Attractive packaging designs, and names will stand out. Apart from visual factors, food companies will use health claims to encourage a buyer looking to make a healthier choice. For example, “High Fiber, Low Fat!” are commonly used on cereal boxes and granola bars. This gives off an illusion of health. According to “Food Politics: How the food industry influences nutrition and health” by Marion Nestle, consumers are more likely to believe a product is more healthy or natural if its packaging is green! Most companies will make their product alluring to children to gain their loyalty. In return, kids will urge their parents to buy the specific brand of food such as Kellogg’s etc. For example, some cereals will use cartoons or a free toy to win over a child’s interest.

Colors of certain brands can affect our choices as well.
Colors of certain brands can affect our choices as well.

Ready to Go Fast Food!
Have you noticed that there are McDonald’s restaurants almost within five miles of every neighborhood?

According to the documentary, Feeding Frenzy, by the Media Education Foundation, “80% of the food decisions we make and 80% of the food we eat is within 5 miles of our house”.
Location is a vital part of marketing. It isn’t a coincidence that McDonald’s is a popular choice, it is always conveniently nearby, and provides speedy service. In fact, studies show that more people can identify the golden arches more than the Catholic Cross! Or for instance, Tim Horton’s is attached to gas stations. People will be able to grab a quick bite while they’re on the run.

Domino’s Promotional Tactic

Fast food is usually bought for its cheap prices. Many restaurants like McDonald’s will give out coupons that offer “Buy one get one” free deals. If you were a parent trying to feed your children but looking to save money, you would most likely look to fast food to get your quick fix. You won’t mind a cheaper quality that was hurriedly made, if you’re not spending as much in quantity. In fact, offers like lunch combos put us in the position to buy even more, although we don’t need it.

Our choices as consumers are affected by marketing tactics and strategic placement when we shop. Along with that, availability and price influence what we go for in fast food establishments. People who make fast food and junk food such as potato chips, candy, and soft drinks know that their merchandise is not an essential part of a healthy diet. We don’t necessarily need these products in our shopping carts. With this in mind, they have to rely on clever sayings, cool commercials, and convenience in order to encourage people to add these unhealthy concoctions to their diets. Keep these things in mind the next time you are shopping!

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