What Supermarkets Can Teach You About Choices

Choosing Chocolates

Supermarkets want you to buy chocolates. They know that they can stock an entire aisle with chocolates (and they do) but that doesn’t really help them because:

a) A fully-stocked aisle gives you too many choices. Too many choices means you’re bound to spend a lot of time deciding,comparing and then maybe buying or not buying one of the dozens of varieties available.

b) Going through an entire aisle of sugared treats with their kids is not something most parents would look forward to. So parents are more likely to try and bypass the chocolate aisle and either get some later when the kids aren’t with or not get any at all.

c) If you’ve started an exercise program or you’re trying to eat healthy, you leave home with the promise to yourself that you’re not going to even glance at the chocolate aisle. So when you’re shopping, you avoid it completely, just so that you don’t get tempted. A supermarket telling someone on a diet, “here’s the chocolates” is just too obvious.

Willpower is something even the greatest marketers have to contend with.

So how do they get you to buy some chocolates?

They simply solve the problems listed in points a, b & c.

Once you’re done shopping you need to pay for your groceries.They funnel you towards a till-point where you will find yourself in a mini aisle with a selection of the most commonly purchased sweets and chocolates. [Not too many options so you don’t need to make too many comparisons]

Because these are usually not high-value items most people won’t think twice about the cost of a single chocolate when added to their grocery purchases. [They’ve made it easier for you to decide because the cost isn’t going to put you off]

Even if you’re a parent or you’re concerned about your health, you need to wait in line with sweets on both sides of you. During this time you have a few minutes to pick from a pre-selected bunch of chocolates. [In these few minutes, you’re forced to at least scan/browse the sweets on offer. They’re not telling you to buy them; just suggesting. If you don’t want to look at the sweets, your kids will]

If you’re carrying a shopping basket only, supermarkets usually have a separate line for an express checkout. To get to the till though, you need to navigate a maze of shelves stocked with at least 50-60 varieties of sweets/chocolates.

What does this have to do with improving your life?


It’s easy to read books, blogs and articles that tell you how to build a better life, career or marriage. It’s easy to listen to inspiring talks. It’s easy to plan to improve your life.

What most people fail at is the implementation of the advices they come across.

Supermarkets get you to buy more chocolates (even if you don’t really want to) by making it as easy as possible for you to make a purchase. At every step of your shopping experience, they’ve removed anything that could prevent you from buying a chocolate.

When you identify a good habit or practice that you’d like to bring into your life, do what supermarkets have been doing :

  • Make it as easy as possible to get those things done.
  • Remove as many options as possible. When the right choice is the only option you have, you’ll take it. 

Whether you want to read more, eat healthier, exercise more or develop a new habit to help you improve the core areas of your life, remove anything that will give you a chance to get away from building your happiness.

Habits don’t grow themselves, you’ve got to facilitate their inclusion in your life.

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