Grocery Shopping...thoughts during a conversation on Silk List
It has become the fashion as well as a convenience, now, to go to a supermarket and pick up all the provisions one wants to get, at one go. But I notice that the “convenient” process is beset with pitfalls, that the advertising and marketing people have put there for us shoppers. The tactics they adopt always encourage us to spend more,and buy items that we do not really need–or spend more money on brands more expensive than they should be. As this can impact our budgets, here’s a housewife’s take on some of the techniques one is likely to encounter. Unfortunately, most marketing techniques seem to fall under the category of being, at best, designed to make us spend more…and at worst, marketing skullduggery which misrepresents products and their prices (and ultimate cost-to-the-consumer) to the buyers.
I recently read about how supermarkets keep the milk right at the back, so that the consumer will have to go through aisles of other, tempting, but unnecessary stuff….and while I can understand the market tactics, I do go there directly and don’t spend time on what’s at the front…probably I am an adman/marketing person’s nightmare customer. But I do know several people who really enjoy the browsing, and trying out of new stuff and brands. This works well for me, too…from my try-the-new-brand friends, I get the feedback, and then am able to take a decision about buying a new product.
Another technique supermarkets adopt is to put a very wide variety of one particular type of product on the shelf…and the more expensive ones are always handier. I find that sparing the time to calculate the unit price (it is dispalyed in supermarkets abroad, but not in India), sometimes even with the help of a calculator, helps me make the best choice of product. It is a sad fact of life that one is probably going to pay more for the convenience of having many varities of a product on the supermarket shelves,as the shops will pass on the cost of the inventory to us, too.
Something that I do beef about is that stores in India have picked up these selling tactics really fast…but just try returning some bad produce or products and one can see the difference between shopping here and abroad! They hem and haw at you, make you go to the supervisor and then the manager, waste your time…. and make it SO difficult. Consumerism still is in its infancy in India, and most supermarkets take advantage of the fact.
The one thing that I still see that’s better in Indian supermarkets is that the clerks at the counter are much smarter…they can add even if the calculator doesn’t work!
And in point of fact, I find that in India, the family-run grocery shop is often the consumer’s best bet.Since I have the time to spare, I go to my neighbourhood Rajasthani-run kirana shop, look at the various varieties and qualities of dal or rice that may be available, and make my choice.. I am able to buy, say, 250 gms of rice so that I can try it out first at home. To get it at the same price in the local Fabmall or FoodWorld, I would have to buy a 5 kg.bag….
My best-beloved local shop doesn’t have door delivery; they say that would only be added to the cost of the groceries; I realize that there is really no such thing as “free delivery”…when the supermarket is selling things at MRP, the profit margins are large enough to pay for the door delivery costs.
At my local grocery shop,I know the guys, and they know me, and I get the best quality possible and excellent VFM. They give me the same flexibility and “returnability” that Metro (the Sam’s Club of Bangalore) allegedly gives me, without my having to buy a thousand rupees’ worth at one go, and having to stock industrial quantities in a small apartment
I much prefer not having door delivery, whether from the supermarkets or from the grocery shops; because I often find that stuff nearing, or past, its expiry date has been sent over, or “by mistake” there has been a slight (always upward) difference in the amounts to be paid….
My kind of buying, everyone says, takes the kind of time and effort which working people normally cannot spare…but I beg to differ. After walking long aisles to locate each of the items I want, asking the store assistants to get the size pr brand I want if it is not on the shelves, and finally paying after waiting in long checkout queues….I doubt whether supermarket shoppers really save so much of time.
However, I do realize that each of us has a different approach to the perennial question of how and where to shop….so to each hes(her/his) own way of shopping!