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Discus whether supermarkets are now the controllers of food choice.

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Introduction

"We go to supermarkets because they allow us to buy whatever we want and supermarkets make their money by choosing in advance exactly what it is were going to buy" (Bell and Valentine, 1997) Discus whether supermarkets are now the controllers of food choice. Since the 1950's supermarkets have expanded to become a large share in the retail industry. This share has led to a large domination in the market thus reducing the consumer's choice. The top 5 supermarkets in the United Kingdom (Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda, Safeway and Morrison's) control 70% of the food market. Their control spans not only where we shop, but what we buy. Supermarket's can choose what we purchase through a variety of methods that this assignment will explore. Their control on the market means that what they choose to stock in their stores is what we will purchase. They use their power to decide when, where, how, and for how much their food is processed, packed, delivered and stored. Many supermarkets have started to branch out into the convenience market with a rise in shops such as, Tesco Metro, Tesco Express and Sainsbury's Local stores. Tesco has also recently bought out the "T&S" stores which include the "One stop" stores and "Day and Night". ...read more.

Middle

Music is often played in supermarkets. Most people would assume that music is there to create a mood, but this too is often used as a tool to increase selling potential. Professor Gary Davies, Manchester business school, claims that music adjusts the speed we shop, so supermarkets can keep the music slow so that our pace is slow. This way we will notice things we would not have at a quicker pace. (The persuaders, 1995). The first isle in a supermarket is traditionally fruit and vegetables. Natural lighting is used over the fruit and vegetables to give the illusion of freshness, as if purchasing from an outdoor market. Positioning of all the stock in the supermarkets is for a reason, including the fruit and vegetables near the doorway. "The positioning of products around the supermarket is a key weapon in the battle for our cash" (The persuaders, 1995). Fruit and vegetables are positioned at the entrance to give an idea of freshness. These cheaper essentials ease the consumer into the supermarket atmosphere before more expensive purchases are made. The last isles are alcohol and the fridges. The alcohol is placed here so that consumers are not conscious when shopping of the money yet to be spent on the most expensive items. ...read more.

Conclusion

For example, on Tesco.com when coffee is searched for, 152 items are displayed, the first being Douwe Egberts Continental Gold Coffee. A shopper in a rush would have little time to look through all 152 varieties of coffee (from freeze dried to cappuccino sachets to caramel flavoured coffee) and would pick one of the first options. Tesco show here that offering verity does not stop them from controlling our choices overall. Another control device within Tesco online is idea lists. These work by special events, such as a party or a barbeque. The consumer, selects their desired special occasion and Tesco online tells them exactly what they will need. For a barbeque, Tesco advises everything from the purchase or the barbeque, to the charcoal, meet, drinks, ice packs and garden furniture. Tesco can control the consumer through this because they choose what is included and excluded from these lists many consumers will adhere to their recommendations. In order to shop online with Tesco, you must first have a Clubcard with them. Clubcards are very valuable to Tesco, as are all loyalty cards to supermarkets. Loyalty cards can show supermarkets a wide range of data. "Loyalty cards... identify and record all our purchases while giving us discounts and freebies" (Bell and Valentine, 1997, pp. 137). When registering for a loyalty card we provide details such as, sex, address, and date of birth. ...read more.

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