Hacking the Grocery Store

Anything that thrives in business is built that way for a reason.  A grocery store is no different.  Whether it be Albertson’s, Safeway, Kroger, or any other, the main design is the same.  The store is composed of two sections, an outside “perishables” loop and an inner grouping of “canned and boxed” goods in the form of aisles.  This design has held for a long time due to its success.  The outer loop of perishables consists of items that offer a considerably lower margin to the grocer.  These items are commodity level items; meats, cheeses, fruits, and veggies.  There is nothing particular to the branding here.  This outer loop is continuous and is meant by the grocer to be able to be traversed quickly.

Why is that?  It’s so you, the shopper can move onto their more lucrative offerings within the aisles.  This is the referred to inner loop.  Due the arrangement of food items within aisles, it takes considerably longer to browse for items.  This method is an excellent advertising opportunity for the grocer as the shopper is essentially a captive audience within these aisles.

In addition, the shopping journey ends with similar methods of advertisement on the way towards the register.  In some instances, there may be a maze of aisles in order to get the checkout portion.

A local grocery store and it's maze towards the register.

A local grocery store and it’s maze towards the register hidden in the upper right portion

The impact of a grocery store layout may now be apparent to your control over your pocketbook, but how about your diet?  This standard layout design is also detrimental to healthy eating habits.  The reasoning is that all of the healthy whole foods are on that outer loop, the loop that is built to be only shortly visited on the way to the aisles.  Again, the aisles are focused on boxed, canned, and processed foods, which should take a second seat to traditional whole foods.

Here’s the grocery store hack:  It takes discipline to overcome conditioning.  Sticking to a list helps, but adopting a new approach will prove its effectiveness shortly.  Try this:  Only shop the outer sections of a store.  Try your best to build a complete meal plan off of this alone.  If you find that there are other items that you need from the inner aisles, get them from the other store in town, only after you have exhausted your options as prescribed above.  This changes your conditioning patterns.  Most prices are close enough anyways.  The savings in adjusting behavior patterns will be greater than a slight difference in prices.


Too little pay on the job? Owning your own production may be the answer.

Having a hard time getting ahead? Is your salary getting you down? Increasingly, this is all too common and unfortunately, it is by design. Only so much wealth can be created by one individual’s work. Past that point, additional wealth must be generated off of the efforts of others. This is the guiding principle behind any corporation and if you can align with one that pays well, then there is no issue. However, this is an exception to the rule as companies rarely pay a worker more than they have to.

And why should they? It’s a problem in economics. There are two concepts of interest here; marginal cost and marginal benefit. The marginal cost represents a small increase or decrease in the cost from the initial starting point. The marginal benefit is the change in benefit achieved by the change in cost. The two are combined as a ratio to determine how much benefit the next dollar buys. To a corporation, a worker’s marginal benefit will run out quickly at any cost beyond market rate. Why, because the corporation could have just as well hired anyone else at market rate.

For the individual, the problem of marginal cost and benefit is reversed. A person who owns their own production, in the case of a sole proprietor or single person corporation has an interest in maximizing their own total benefit. This is the point in which the income that they bring in is built up to the point where the marginal cost equals the marginal benefit. This is the maximum point of income generation at which beyond this point any additional work results in a loss for the individual. It is in this principle, that many self-employed have come to appreciate the liberating feeling of their work “on their own terms”

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