Supermarket Shelves - © 2004 lyzadanger-Diliff via Wikipedia Commons

Supermarket Dirty Tricks: Pay for Play

Welcome to another installment of Supermarket Dirty Tricks. Today, we’ll look at a practice that permeates the supermarket retail sector. It is nothing less than a conspiracy between manufacturers and retailers to influence your purchasing habits. And, no – It’s not just ‘advertising’!

Supermarket Shelves - © 2004 lyzadanger-Diliff via Wikipedia CommonsSupermarket shelving tricks… It’s a jungle out there!

We’re not talking about short-tern ‘discounts’ on certain products made possible my manufacturer price ‘incentives’ to the retailers, either.

What we’re talking about is ‘paid placement’ – placement of specific products at specific places on the shelf in their accustomed aisle. Or giving them preferred placement at the head of an aisle or featured on an ‘island’ display.

Yes, manufacturers pay supermarkets to place their product at eye level and in the centre of their usual section at the store. And, according to sources in the supermarket biz, they amplify this special exposure as well as make your choice of the featured product even more inevitable, by taking other, compering products off the shelf for the duration of the ‘promotion’. The first of the competing products to disappear are the ‘no name’ and ‘house’ brands. I recall complaining to the store manager once, when all the powdered dish washing detergents were remove\d from his shelves and only three brands of liquid and ‘pod’ detergent remained – for about two weeks straight. This coincided with an intense TV ad campaign for the featured products.

By the way… The manager I complained to said he was just following instructions from the head office. And, so, it seems there’s nothing we poor consumers can do about it – except to recognize these ham-handed attempts to influence our buying habits and let supermarket managers know that we’re not being fooled. And, of course, always hold out for the brands you prefer!

~ Maggie J.


  1. Author


    It’s worse than I thought!


  2. My “Independent Grocer” indeed. I was told by the owner of my local “Independent” store that he had no say in it at all. He got a chart from head office and that was what he was forced to follow when stocking shelves. They are also not allowed to stock any products that are not on the list from head office.

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