Having worked in marketing for years, I'm pretty familiar with the idea of loss leaders. The concept is simple: companies sell particular products at zero profit – or even at a loss – to get customers in the door. Those $50 Blu-Ray players on Black Friday? Total loss leaders, intended simply to get customers in the purchasing mindset so that they'll spend money on other items while they're at it. I've recently started considering my grocery store purchases with more of a marketing awareness (I figure that the more educated you are about advertising, the more savvy you can be as a shopper) and I'm seeing loss leaders in ALL of those weekly sale ads. Here's how I'm taking advantage of them.
Identify Loss Leaders
Loss leaders are typically front and center in grocery ads, frequently with a limit of 1-3 per customer or a coupon required to prevent them from going out of stock. You'll usually find these large savings on regular items that you frequently buy, like bread, eggs, or milk. Grocery stores often make these their loss leader items so that all customers will recognize the value and they'll get as many shoppers in the door as possible.
Find Additional Ways to Save on your Grocery Item
Double up your savings by checking online for manufacturer coupons before you head to the grocery store. If you see an exceptional sale on Foster Farms chicken breasts, just do a quick Google search for “Foster Farms coupons.” Check their website and Facebook for any exclusive offers. The same applies to just about any brand name item. You should also check your grocery store's website for exclusive online savings.
When you see a good deal on an item that won't go bad any time soon, buy as many as possible! You can freeze things like cheese and meat, and non-perishables can just hang out in your cupboard until you're ready to use them. It's a good idea to invest in some storage solutions to take advantage of a lot of grocery savings long-term. You can also get around those item limits by bringing your spouse or family shopping with you.
Don't Get Sucked Into Buying Extra Things
Loss leaders are almost always placed at the back of the store, so you get pulled in by displays on your way back there. Don't get sucked in! Compile your weekly list based on what's on sale and stick to it.
“Door busters” is another term for “loss leaders,” as is “deal of the day” or “cart busters.” Any time you see clever wording like that, stay alert for a good deal and don't get sidetracked with other items!