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Thursday, 26 June 2014


Call something a crisis or an epidemic often enough and most people will believe it.  The Government knows this. Retailers, especially supermarkets, know this. Spin.  Marketing.  Call it what you like but every minute of every day, the influencers, manipulators, the nudgers are all trying to shape our habits and behaviours to make money.  Oh, they'll emphasise it with some other label - environment, obesity or whatever.  It has already happened re the devil's own bastard invention the plastic carrier bag and now it's in full throttle with that sinister evil known as sugar.  Frighten people, worry people and they'll be so grateful for any relief, any solution.  Experts know how to control us saps.  Every day there is a new survey, new research, expert speculation about something to scare the bejapers out of us. NHS anyone?

Many years ago I read the excellent Vance Packard book The Hidden Persuaders about such tactics.  The book was first published in 1957 but it still packs a punch today.  Here's the blurb:

"What makes us buy, believe and even vote the way we do?
Do you know:
How many of us are being influenced and manipulated in the patterns of our everyday lives?
How people's desires, needs, drives are probed in order to find points of vulnerability?
How the probers aim to influence the state of our minds and channel our behaviour as citizens?
How television (1957 remember) conditions children to be loyal enthusiasts of a product whether they are old enough to consume it or not?
How political parties merchandise their candidates and issues using the same methods that business has developed to sell goods?"

Twas ever thus, I hear the cry.  But now, we live in an era of both hidden and blatant persuasions.  Beware the message and beware the messenger.  Seek out the motive and don't believe everything that spouts forth from the TV and newspapers. Think for yourself.

Last year, I jokingly (sorta) proposed this new, revolutionary supermarket layout to satisfy nanny and matron.


All this talk about retail regeneration, clarity for customers and healthy living, got me thinking that all food stores, large, medium and small, should adopt the simplest form of layout.  

Asking customers to read product labels is a non-starter. Too much information. Too much blah. Too much CYA verbiage.  Here's the solution:

4 sections all painted - floors, walls, ceiling to avoid any confusion:

Green zone: Contains all food and drink that Matron says is very, very good for us.

Amber zone: Contains all food and drink that Matron says is not too risky

Red Zone: Contains all food and drink that Matron says is bad for us - but it's our choice to enter this zone

Black zone - for all food and drink that Matron considers extremely bad for us even though it might be the tastiest selection - enter if you dare!

There you go.

It's worth a pilot, surely.

Food and drink retailing is saved.

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