Shopping at the supermarket is part of our daily lives. Yet what you may not know is that once you step into the store, every single element of what you see and experience is designed to induce you to stay longer and spend more money.

This involves a great deal of calculation on the part of supermarket bosses who use a wide variety of techniques developed over time by experts in retail science.

Local supermarkets sprang up in 1980s. Dr Henry Fock, Head of the Department of Marketing, says, "The emergence of the supermarket brought us self-service shopping, allowing consumers to enjoy greater autonomy in what they bought." As a result, each supermarket develops a unique display plan to encourage shoppers to buy more.

The supermarket layout and product placement are results of careful planning. Dr Fock says, "In general, all supermarkets have their own planogram. The shelves are like gondolas, with high-profit and popular items placed near the entrance or cashiers, or even at the well-displayed 'gondola ends' to attract customers to walk in."

At the same time, promoted items are always placed in the middle of the shelves, and the space matching the eye-level of women is considered the golden zone as it is more visible and accessible to them. You may also find that daily necessities are hidden at the back of the store. This makes sure that consumers pass by as many products as possible on their way there in order to increase the chances of them making more purchases.

He continues, "Goods sold in the supermarkets are usually categorised as fast-moving consumer goods, which have a lower profit margin, and high-profit margin goods which are placed on shelves with particular care. Related goods are also placed together. For example, coffee made by popular brands with a lower profit margin and coffee-mate with a higher profit margin are usually next to each other. This is designed to attract consumers to buy more goods with the higher profit margin, thereby boosting the overall sales volume."

"Loss leaders" is also a common marketing term in supermarket retailing, referring to selected items sold at below cost price to promote sales volume. Dr Fock says, "Though the supermarkets may have to suffer a loss, such a tactic is appealing to discount seekers. As long as they are attracted to walk into the supermarket, there is chance that they will buy more goods."

Dr Fock adds that there are also a number of "silent" salesmen in the store. These include lighting, music and advertising banners, all incitements to consumers to buy more. "Studies have shown that the rhythm of music can affect the walking tempo of supermarket shoppers. Slow-tempo music can make shoppers feel relaxed and spend longer time in supermarkets. Lighting is also important as special lighting or spotlights on discounted items can help attract shoppers. The colourful discount banners also draw the attention of shoppers some distance away and whet their purchasing appetites.