How to shop for groceries in the midst of inflation

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Buyers are looking for ways to further stretch their dollars amid rising inflation.

Food prices are up 8.8% from March 2021, according to the latest Consumer Price Index report.

Professor Joe Redden of the Carlson School of Management is an expert in marketing and consumer strategies. He shares five ways to be a savvy shopper as stores respond to inflationary pressures.

Joe Redden, Ph.D.

“As prices rise, buyers’ overall budgets will tighten. Some items, like fresh produce, will be harder to replace with cheaper options, so shoppers will have to find ways to save money in other areas, like processed foods. Here are a few tips:

  • Check unit prices. It’s often believed that larger packs are cheaper per ounce, but that’s not always the case. Looking at unit prices will help find the real deal on the shelf.
  • Taste test. You may be paying a lot more for a branded item that you don’t like much more (or maybe even less) than a generic product. Some generic and branded products are even manufactured in the same facilities, but with different brands. Doing a blind taste test can surprise you and lead to big savings.
  • Buy in store rather than online. Grocery store websites or apps may not be conducive to your shopping goals. Online, a store may be incentivized to show you more expensive items on which the store makes a bigger margin and it may be more difficult to find the value product. In store, all the options are in front of you.
  • Be patient. Big name brands often have deals with grocery stores to donate trade dollars if they promote their products in-store. A promotional sale will eventually take place. Wait for the right moment to fill up on your dose of Oreo.
  • To mix together. Stocked up on your favorite food when it was on sale? Research shows that repeatedly eating the same thing can lead to less pleasure or satiety. Change it to keep it fresh. Pair your yogurt with different fruits or granola, or find a way to incorporate it into other recipes. Also reduce the size of your portions of more expensive foods, while increasing those of less expensive foods.

Joe Redden is the Curtis L. Carlson Professor of Marketing Analytics and Professor of Marketing at the Carlson School of Management. His research focuses on how to help consumers get more pleasure without switching products, how to reduce consumer boredom, and how to encourage healthier eating.

About the Carlson School of Management
Located on the Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesota, the Carlson School of Management exemplifies a commitment to excellence by emphasizing experiential learning and international education, and maintaining connections close ties with the Minneapolis/Saint Paul business community. Through its undergraduate and graduate programs, the Carlson School provides access to world-class faculty and an alumni network of 55,000. Learn more at carlsonschool.umn.edu.

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