When shopping, have you ever noticed a product completely out of place? I’m not talking about a display set up in a strange place – canned corn, now on sale in the bakery! – I’m talking about a single item, set among a whole shelf of different products. You know, the kind of thing you’d see if someone decided they no longer want something they’d put in their cart. Ideally, the poor item should have been reunited on with its brethren, but shoppers can be lazy.
Back in high school, when I worked in a supermarket, I hated that. Now I amuse myself by reconstructing the thought processes of those thoughtless shoppers.
For instance, this weekend at Costco, I noticed a lone box of Zipfizz Liquid Shots sitting atop of an almost-full palette of Sunkist soda. “What led to that decision?” I wondered. My brain gave me back something like this:
- A large woman pushing a full shopping cart stops at the corner Zipfizz display.
- “Hmmm…” She thinks to herself. “What are these liquid shot things?”
- She turns the small, plastic wrapped case over in her hands, reading the packaging.
- “Only four fluid ounces each – how could they possibly be good for you…? Wow! 44,667% of my daily B12 needs!” She rubs her chin with her free hand. “My doctor always tells me I need more B12. I’m totally buying this!” She wedges the case sideways into her cart.
- She begins to push the cart forward, glanceing up at the price. “30 bucks? That’s kind of spendy…” The cart slows, then, as she seems to reaffirm her decision, pushes on. “It must just taste really good.”
- Shortly afterwards…
- The cart rounds the corner and enters the frozen food aisle. Refrigeration cases line both sides, along the middle sit a dozen palettes of soda.
- A towering stack of Sunkist cans appears on her left. “Ooo! Sunkist!” she says out loud, exchanging the Zipfizz in her cart for a larger case of soda. “Orangey!”
- The woman leaves, the case of Zipfizz left behind on the stack of orange.
Next time you’re shopping and you see an orphaned item, you might take a moment to think about what it was exchanged for. For the people that are selling these things, there just might be a marketing strategy hidden away in the forensic evidence. For you, perhaps just an entertaining yarn.