All year long, Clark.com’s Michael Timmermann is sharing quick and easy ways to save money as part of our Michael Saves series. Check in every Monday as he puts new and familiar savings strategies to the test. Sign up for our newsletter to have these stories delivered to your inbox!
“Eye level is buy level” is a phrase that’s common in the retail industry. The theory is that shoppers are more likely to purchase items at their eye level or just below it.
As a result, retailers will reserve this space for top-selling items with high profit margins.
Retail expert Christa Avampato revealed to NBC’s Megyn Kelly that since most people are right-handed, they’ll naturally reach to the right — so stores will stock premium products in that direction.
In addition, products the retailer wants to push — like a store brand or discontinued item — may go to the right.
Retail secret: How your favorite stores get you to spend more
Keeping what Avampato said in mind, I visited three stores — Walmart, Target and Publix — and paid close attention to how the products are strategically placed on the shelves.
Are retailers really using this tactic to get shoppers to spend more money? I just had to find out!
There was something about the bread aisle that caught my attention at Target. Notice how there’s whole wheat bread to the left (Market Pantry) and right (Nature’s Own), but honey wheat bread is in the middle.
Anyone in a hurry could very easily pick up the more expensive Nature’s Own without realizing they had a choice.
Target featured its affordable Market Pantry brand to the left of name brand products in many other cases. This picture shows Barilla pasta priced at $1.99, more than double Market Pantry’s $0.92 price.
I was a little bit surprised to see Windex to the left of Target’s glass cleaner, but then I remembered that Avampato said this tactic isn’t about generic or name brands — it’s about what the store wants to highlight.
Avampato also told Clark.com that retailers may make more profit on some generic items because it’s their brand.
I headed straight for the snacks at Publix and saw Snyder’s pretzels at my eye level and to the right. The cheaper option, Publix’s brand, was way to the left and on the bottom shelf.
If you were only looking at eye level, you wouldn’t even know Publix had its own brand of pretzels!
Things don’t get easier for comparison shoppers in the soda aisle. I recorded this short video to show how Coca-Cola products are located on one end, generic sodas are in the middle and Pepsi products are on the other end.
You would need to walk almost the entire length of the aisle to identify the cheapest two-liter bottle of cola.
When I made my way to the beauty department at Walmart, Pantene hair products weren’t just at eye level, they also took up real estate on the top and bottom shelves.
Meanwhile, I found a much smaller selection of VO5 hair products (priced as low as $0.78) to the far left of Pantene’s display. They were on the very bottom shelf.
This photo shows the distance between VO5 and Pantene. Avampato told Clark.com that Pantene, a Procter & Gamble brand, gets prime placement because it leads the pack in terms of sales for many retailers.
In some cases, brands will pay extra money to retailers to have their products displayed in desirable spots.
Bottom line: Don’t forget to look to the left!
I’ve always been a pretty smart shopper, but I never really considered how product placement — or the fact that I pick up items with my right hand — can influence my buying behavior.
Avampato said the key takeaway is to shop the whole shelf to get the best deals, not just at eye level and to the right.