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Visual Merchandising that Boosts Supermarket Spending

Since the emergence of the “self-service” grocery store in the early 1900s- the science of visual marketing has been in constant development. Visual marketing is the art of encouraging greater spending per visit by arranging the aisles and merchandise in a way that leverages shopper psychology.

Some common examples are;

  • Arranging regular purchase categories around the perimeter of the store
  • Placing doors and the internal layout in a way that encourages anti-clockwise navigation
  • Placing impulse-buy items in and around the checkout area

The Science of Visual Marketing

According to a 2016 marketing report by B. Berry and McMullen’s Agriculture and Human values, visual marketing is responsible for an increase in sales by as much as $2 per individual visit. That amounts to an estimated $2.5 billion each year in the US alone.

The tenets of visual marketing are based on empirical evidence derived from many years of study aimed at the shopping behaviors of the average supermarket patron. There are a number of theories about how these techniques work, but the most important factor is the statistical relevance of the techniques.

Researchers have found that shoppers have an overwhelming tendency to want to travel in an anti-clockwise fashion. Therefore, setting up the layout of your supermarket to facilitate this helps to place shoppers at ease and encourages them to spend more time in the store.

By placing the most important categories around the perimeter, shoppers have to circle around all of the more optional items. Each time they stray from the perimeter, they will tend also to stray from their shopping list.

And, of course, the impulse items set up around the checkout area benefit from the fact that shoppers must wait in line where these items are presented, and the low prices of these items. This results in a high probability that shoppers will give in to the urge to make a small impulse purchase.

Simple Visual Marketing Techniques You Can Try Today

Layout and placement are not the only considerations when you design your visual marketing strategy. Colors, focal points, storytelling, exposure, and the use of negative space must also be taken into account.


Use blues and other calming colors to encourage shoppers to spend more time in a particular area such as a special display area where new products that buyers need to become acquainted with are displayed.

Focal Points

Using color and signage, create specialized focal points around specific sections such as the deli or floral desk. Customers can become involved with a particular experience within the broader shopping event.


Use signage that portrays people using the product in the course of their daily lives. This humanizes the product and make it easier for the customer to envision using it in their own daily lives.


Create large spread displays which exposes the shopper to the largest amount of variety of a single type of product as possible. This is to generate an overwhelming feeling of plenty which disarms the shopper’s urge toward frugality.

Negative Space

Use negative space to draw shoppers in a given direction. Areas of the store where a shopper should be finished with a given section can employ negative space to create the feeling of an appealing journey toward the next section.

Keeping your customers engaged and stimulated using visual merchandising techniques will boost sales. Use it to your advantage and experiment with different variations on proven themes. Don’t forget to ask for customer feedback. Most shoppers will be glad to give their opinions and help you to keep improving!