Free, Save, 2 for, Money off – Which Special Offer do Shoppers Like Best?

When shoppers are faced with 2 different special offers every second in the supermarket, it is impossible for them to calculate the added value of each one. As a result, their subconscious takes over and decisions are made based on emotional ‘best guesses’. For example:

  • Sales of DVDs priced at £4.24 increased when a sign said 'Two for £10'
  • 45% of shoppers buying from a BOGOF display of tea bought… …Just 1    
  • Sales of a leading lager supported by an impactful shelf edge label (SEL) soared by 10 per cent compared with rival brands. The SEL read: “Thieves will be prosecuted”

To explain the lager example: When faced with 85 different SKUs of lager in an aisle, the brain just automatically tries to slim that down to a smaller, more manageable number. So if there are four or five on special offer, the brain will use that as a filter.

The fact is that although shoppers are influenced by product promotions - they don't take in the details. As a result, the subconscious takes over and as shoppers, we tend to fill our trolleys with items regardless of whether or not they are good value.

I've sent teams of researchers into stores to monitor real life evidence of how real people really shop. I know that the brains of shoppers just cannot cope with the number of decisions they have to make in a store. In numerous studies I have carried out, it is clear that the precise nature of a special offer or deal was much less important than the visual presentation of the promotion.

I've increased product prices and caused sales to rise. Altering the layout of the SEL has led to significantly more sales with no additional added value at all. And just introducing a promotional colour has resulted in increases in brand share of more than 30%.

I also have a wealth of evidence that proves that the accepted beliefs about on shelf vs off shelf and gondola ends are often, not to put it too strongly, wrong! By the way, I'm happy to discuss and share statistics to substantiate such a claim.

The message to retailers and brands is simple: It ain’t what you say but the way that you say it.

About Phillip Adcock

My name is Phillip Adcock: I have more than 30 years of human behavioural research and analysis, and have developed a unique ability to identify what it is that makes people psychologically and physiologically 'tick'.

Would you like to know more about how shoppers and consumers think? Download my FREE guide now. Alternatively, check out, where there are more FREE downloads available there. Or why not simply email me with what's on your mind?

If you think there is value in this article then please, please share it, thank you.

Phillip Adcock
Psychology & Behaviour
Change Consultant

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