Tesco is the market leader of groceries in the UK, with more than 6,000 stores providing it with a market share of 28.4 percent. Founded in 1919 by Jack Cohen, the first Tesco store opened in 1931 in Burnt Oak, Barnet, and quickly expanded to more than 100 across the country by the end of the decade. In the years since, Tesco has expanded globally and now has stores in 11 other countries in the world across Europe and Asia, which equated to a £1.32billion net income in 2019.
Visiting the Tesco Extra store in Beckton, East London, for the BBC’s ‘Shopping the Supermarkets’ series, Sally Magnusson explained how the supermarket uses psychological tactics to boost sales.
She said in 2014: “This is Steven Kraft, a retired scientist and bargain hunter extraordinaire – he claims to have the supermarkets sussed.
“None of their psychological tricks or mind games work on him.
“He’s been fitted with a high-tech, infrared eye-tracking camera, it will record in pin-point detail everything he looks at while shopping.
Some products at Tesco should be avoided
In a sense, you’re just throwing money away
“It will allow a team of experts to analyse his conscious and subconscious decision making.
“According to the experts behind the eye camera, convenience is King in our hectic, time-poor modern lives.”
The series then showed Mr Kraft entering the store and making a beeline for the reduced shelf.
He told viewers: “The reason for this is I’m heading straight for the bargain shelves, where they’re selling produce that is coming to its use—by date.
“I tend to go there first and have a good old rummage around.
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“They also have buy one get one free offers, but sometimes it works out cheaper to buy two different items – it’s still not cheap enough.
“They periodically change the layout of the supermarket – I wish they wouldn’t do that without asking – it means you have to hunt for the cheap deals.
“I can see with the layout of this supermarket, how they make you go past the more expensive items first, in the hope that you will impulse buy them.
“That doesn’t work with me, I use a calculator to stop myself going mad, because sometimes it is tempting to buy too much and then have to throw it out.”
Ms Magnusson then detailed another way to save the pennies.
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She added: “But it’s not all about price, product packaging – or the lack of it – is a hugely important factor in Steven’s decisions.
“As shoppers, it’s important to remember that the cost of packaging is built into the price.
“So, in a sense, you’re just throwing money away.”
Picking up one packaged bacon product, Mr Kraft explained why he would avoid it.
He said: “I would never buy this packaged bacon because it’s very expensive, tasteless and over-packaged.
“This [Tesco essential] is minimum packaging, it’s roughly cut, but it all goes down the same way.
“In fact, I think I’ll have a few of these, I probably shouldn’t, but I don’t give a monkey’s, this is what I call value for money, I’ll have a few of those.
“Packaging is a standard psychological trick used by supermarkets, but environmentally it’s irresponsible, the public needs to be educated.
“The amount of waste we produce as a nation is enough to fill up the Albert Hall every hour, and this is in a very big way responsible for it.”