Gruen transfer, sounds like a funny name right? Almost like a kind of beer. But what is the Gruen Transfer? Actually it’s a term coined by the Austrian architect Victor Gruen and it’s all about influencing shopping centre design to maximise unplanned sales. It pretty much takes small business mistakes, flips them on their head and energises them to an inch of their life.
Ever wondered why the milk is at the back of the supermarket, why the chocolate bars are squeezed next to the checkout, or why that easy beat 1980’s hit is softly yearning over the PA? It’s not an accident. It’s a carefully choreographed system which has been shown to deliver extra sales.
TV: The Gruen Transfer on the ABC
It should also be noted that The Gruen Transfer is the name of a popular ABC Australia show which discusses the advertising and marketing industry. It’s interesting and entertaining stuff. You can stream past episodes via the Gruen Transfer Page on the ABC website.
What exactly is the Gruen transfer?
We normally visit a shop for a reason. Say, to replenish a dozen litres of milk, browse the jam donuts section or to hip and shoulder a trolley. This can be regarded as priority one.
We boldly strut into the shopping centre and scan the aisle for the beginning of our attack. And here’s where the psychology of the shopping centre begins. By appealing to our five senses, the shopping centre design can begin to make us deviate from our initial goal. Or alternatively can make us add new items to our shopping list.
Our eyes are bombarded with sale signs, our nose smells those hot jam donuts, we’re given a free sample of a new icecream or we listen to a song which makes us walk more slowly. The longer we are in the store the more we are likely to buy. This is especially true in hardware shops like Bunnings or Walmart. I’m guilty of this myself.
And then at the end when you’re fumbling for your wallet and fuming at the person in front of you for carrying over 15 items, you see a drink, or a chocolate bar or even today’s paper. ‘This looks good’, you think as you begin to silently go comatose doe to line boredom. ‘That item will make me happier than I am now… which isn’t hard because my life is pretty much on hold at the moment’. So (sometimes) you pick it up and add it to your shopping list. Kerching! Another sale thanks to the pioneering work of the Gruen Transfer.
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