Grocery cart advertising

Seems mostly like a waste to me.  I’ve grocery shopped in 5 states in the past 3 years, and most of them have had the stupid plastic tack-on boards holding pictures of local ‘REALTOR(tm)’s who inevitably freak me out, staring at me while I’m sizing up my bananas.  Does anyone buy anything from these people?  It honestly seems like it’s a bit of a drain on local economies, especially when the local ad money is going in to large grocery chain pockets (Kroger, etc.).

If in-cart advertising worked, you’d *think* stores would put their weekly flyers in the bottom of the carts, so that it was the first thing you saw as you were walking in the store, pushing your cart to the vegetables and fruits, thinking about what you wanted.  Given the glacial pace of change in most businesses, perhaps no one in a decision-making position has ever considered this though.   Imagine the bottom of the wire cart had a plastic flap that held a color flyer (those kind that they have at the entrance that few people ever take) in hard-plastic goodness, keeping it safe from harm whilst shoppers glanced at it during the initial 10-20 seconds in the store.  My bet is that, if the offers were good, and easy to find in the store, sales of those items would go up.  All carts could have the same flyers, or different flyers could be rotated amongst carts, to test for ad effectiveness.

Perhaps in-cart advertising really doesn’t work, and that’s why stores would rather sell-out their ‘space’ inventory to local businesses who can’t really track efficacy, but want to be ‘seen’ in the community.  If it really worked, wouldn’t we see stores using that space more effectively?  Given the food/impulse aspect of the grocery store/cart motif, I can more easily imagine someone saying “yeah, I’ll get that second pumpkin pie on special” (which they see staring them in the face from the bottom of their cart) than I can someone standing in the frozen food aisle calling the REALTOR(tm) grinning at them from behind Doritos at the back of their cart, cause they just can’t wait for a ‘free appraisal!’.

Perhaps this is an idea I should prototype and patent?

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{ 18 comments to read ... please submit one more! }

  1. I couldn’t agree more on the traditional model of in-cart advertising. But I think an eruption of successful in-cart advertising will happen once the RFID technology gets the kinks out. Imagine having a monsta tricked out cart with a small computer that would give you voice suggestions and commands for products as you walked around the store. You could even electronically submit your shopping list to the car from home and then it could help steer you in the right direction once inside. No more “where the #@$#$ is the scrapple”! I remember someone trying this in California back in the late 90′s, but the technology just wasn’t there yet. It’s coming!

  2. I must admit that I have never tried the shopping cart advertising. I run a out of home catering business and I have tried numerous forms of advertising….except on the shopping cart. I don’t think it is a terrible idea for a business like mine. However, it is a little expensive to want to try. I have found a up and coming advertising company that I think I am going to try. They are extremly reasonable and I have friends that have had great results already… and they have only been advertising for a short time. So I must say that I agree with you guys and would recommend to business owners to research other forms of advertising before diving into the shopping cart market.

  3. What if there is a cart build specifically for advertising but with a lot of upgrades of the traditional one, with big side panels to put your ad.
    I think the traditional carts dont’t do the job for that cause they were not made for advertising just to shop, but there’s one that’s not only for shopping it’s made to sale- a moving billboard-.

  4. Very interesting. How long will it be before all the carts have the RFID technology? Is this an expense the grocery store will incur or something a 3rd party will install that will then sell advertising? I heard Microsoft recently bought a company who was developing shopping cart advertising technology. I am curious, do the grocery stores get a cut of the advertising revenue or just the benefits of the increased sales?

  5. A third party has to make the investment (like a franchise) and control the advertising on the carts. Of course retailers will benefit either by sharing sales income or a percentage of the cart fleet so they can advertise brands that they represent. The hard part is to convince the retailers that this actually works, it is something that’s never been done before but i think it will be a “must” for supermarket advertising.

  6. Grocery cart ads do work! The National Brands like Coke, Visa and others have been utilizing the FRONT of the grocery cart for over 25 years. Statistics show proven increases in packaged goods sales. It has only been over that past couple of years that the Local Businesses and professionals have been invited to piggy back on, and be associated with the National Brand’s success. Grocery cart advertising definately can help “brand” and create top of the mind awareness for the local Realtor, Insurance Agent and others. If you would like to find out more about how grocery cart advertising now benefits “the local” business community, I suggest you visit

    By the way, the grocery store chains are not the entities that sell the ads to National or Local Businesses. However, they do share (get their cut) of ad revenues. Idependent sales agents and Advertising companies such as Xtreme Advertising, Inc. are the one’s responsible for selling the Local ads. A division of News America Corporation is the company who sells and places the National Brand Advertising.
    Now more than ever, “Out of Home Media” is becoming the trend for local businesses to receive massive exposure, repetition, and saturation in their local marketing areas. Print media such as newspaper and magazine ad revenue and readership are reaching all time lows. More of the National Brands and Local advertisers are utilizing innovative ad mediums that are outside of the home to reach potential customers.

  7. I agree that advertisement would work if the products were in the store. A Coke ad on a cart would lean shoppers towards that brand. However, if an outside business advertised with them, the results would be far worse. I opened a flower shop and tried the cart ads for a year. I asked my customers how they heard about me and NOT ONE mentioned seeing it in the grocery store. Needless to say, I didn’t renew. Btw, business grew after that…without the cart ads, so it’s not like my business model was flawed. Just putting my money in the wrong place.

  8. Hi Marcy, Were you on the front of the carts or the baby seat area? I would guess that it was the baby seat, right? Being on a cart program for one year had to give you some good exposure and branding. Were you brand new when you did the carts? Advertising on Front of the carts brings the most exposure. When businesses ask their customers where they heard about them; they usually mention the last place they saw your ad or name. This is how a good media mix including: billboard advertising, grocery cart ads, radio, cable, etc. all work together. I cannot remember the last time I went into an Arby’s for a roast beef sandwich and said that I was there because I saw their billboard or TV spot. Grocery cart advertising as well as other “out of home media” creates strong branding, name recognition and name repetition. Not necessarily quantitative results. Glad to hear your business is doing well. Do you have some web presence?

  9. I am a retired teacher and full-time Realtor and I couldn’t disagree more strongly to the comment that shopping cart advertising doesn’t work because it does! I have been on the carts in 6 supermarkets since 2001 and not a week goes by where someone doesn’t mention that they’ve seen me on the carts. And yes, I have gotten business DIRECTLY from the cart ads, but that’s not the reason that I keep renewing. The reason is that the publicity generated by the cart ads gives me an unbelievable advantage on listing appointments. When I go on a listing appointment, my closing ratio is close to perfect mostly because the homeowner knows me better than every other realtor in town and that is 100% attributable to my cart ads.
    One last thing, the person who made the comment that the nose of the carts offers better visibilty than the baby seat of the carts must only sell the nose of the carts.
    My rep sells both, and I buy both and both of those positions work very well.

  10. Try to find an advertising vehicle that will put you in front of 10,000 plus local decision makers within a 3-5 mile radius of your location on a weekly basis?

    You can’t, except with a product like Adcart.

    You gain constant visibility within your own community for 6 months at a time as an exclusive with this product.

    What this is designed to do is pipeline your existing advertising in a more direct way.

    Its hard to track the results, but if you believe in exposure advertising there is no better product on the Planet!!

  11. I don’t totally agree with Adcart in Chicago. There are in fact better ways on the planet to receive massive exposure. Our company sells the front of the grocery carts.The FRONT of the grocery cart offers 100 times the exposure over the baby seat ad side. I cannot remember ever seeing the National Brand Advertisers like Coke, Visa, P&G, etc. on the Baby Seat – Which is what Adcart is. Adcart sells baby seat advertising to local businesses only. The National Brand Advertisers understand that the front (nose) of the cart brings much more exposure and repetition, rather than one view by one person who is looking down at the baby seat. Not that there is anything wrong with the baby seat side if you’re looking to reach on customer at a time; other than that, the ads get quickly covered up by bread, eggs, and ocassionally a baby.

    Our company offers a totally FREE Advertising Program which can bring great exposure and results in your local community. Although we do sell the front of the grocery cart ads, we have another program you may find very interesting wherby you can get a FREE AD for 4 months and also earn a commission by placing
    3 business associates or people you network with who are in unrelated fields on our displays. That means you gain Total Exclusivity in your business category. I highly encourage you to check out our Table Display Promotions when visiting

    Best regards and Happy Advertising!
    Kurt Schaefer
    Xtreme Advertising, Inc.

  12. Hey Kurt…lighten up. There are arguments to be made about whether the baby seat or the nose is more visible (the baby seat IS closer) but no one is going to buy your story about it being 100 times more exposure because that makes absloutely no sense.
    As for your assertion about where the big boys place their ads you should check your facts.
    The choice of nose vs baby seat was more a function of maintenance than visibilty. It is easier to install on the nose, easier to maintain, and you don’t have much in the way of a concern about IF they can be installed as Smartsource frames can fit about 95% of the carts out there.
    Not so for the baby seat as that is where cart designers tend to get creative.
    Tone down your rhetoric as it should not be us against them. Both products work equally as well, the price points are comparable, and our greatest selling point is the flexibilty of our product….more stores for the same money….shorter run times if a customer wants….better customer service…and best of all, we don’t have the concern about whether the company is going to go out of business. :)

  13. Hey Franco…You blogged back on my birthday. Thanks! Okay, we’ll chill out a little here. Yes, those arguments are somewhat valid. I agree with you to a certain extent. However, it does make sense that the nose (front) of the grocery cart receives more exposure than the inside of the baby seat. There is no disputing that because as I am sure you’ll agree; the inside of the baby seat ad only receives exposure by the (one) consumer pushing the cart. So, the fact that the front nose of the grocery cart can create at least 100 times the exposure makes absolutely perfect sense!

    Yes, the nose of the cart is easier to install and maintain – that’s were the “big boys” as you say advertise. But I think there’s more to it than simply maintenance. I have never, ever seen a Major National Brand Advertiser on the baby seat. I challenge you to show me one.

    In so far as the baby seat goes, I’m not saying that it does not work. We’ve placed ads for clients on the baby seats and will continue to do so in certain circumstances. I agree that the price points are similar. I am not purposely trying to knock where the baby sits or where the eggs and bread goes to sometimes completely cover up the ads.

    Placement on the front, as you well know has total flexibility in positioning a single advertiser in multiple stores for a quicker installation and offers the flexibility of shorter run periods and easy change outs on the ads to continue a campaign consecutively without interruption. Whereas the baby seat requires multiple advertisers to complete “the deal” in order to go into production/installation which can sometimes delay the promised start date if other ads are not sold into the store on time. Also, as you know, the advertisers on the seat are forced to commit for at least 6 months at a time with no ad change outs allowed unless a ridiculous price is paid.

    Earlier this year Xtreme Advertising (we) completed a $25,000+ deal whereby the Ad Agency we worked with had 3 theme (ad) change outs every 8 or 16 weeks for their client. They loved the flexibility of having that option!

    So, here we are both selling supermarket grocery cart ads! I am not exactly sure what you’re talking points are about “we don’t have the concern about whether the company is going to go out of business.” The largest company that I know of who provides the baby seat advertising did file for bankruptcy in 2008 and reorganized under a different name.

    Whether it is the front nose of the grocery cart ads, or the baby seat, our clients and Ad Agencies make their buying decisions based on what we recommend; what is available at the time, and what each of us as professionals in the advertising business believe is the best value and exposure for them at the time.

    The fact remains that all grocery cart advertising does work. Unfortunately there are very few studies on which end of the medium works the best. Maybe in the future we’ll see some research, studies and quantitative analyses done when it comes to grocery store cart advertising. Wouldn’t that be nice? Especially, because of the gaining popularity of the medium.

    Best regards,
    Kurt Schaefer
    “Lightening-up in Las Vegas”
    Visit Our Site for Grocery Store Shopping Cart Ads

    PS. I am so anal, I like to spell check my blog responses before I submit them. Is that bad or what? Blogging is great!

  14. Where are the ads on the nose of the carts when the carts are coralled? You can’t see them. Not so with Adcart! The ads in Smartsource look terrible after a few days from being banged into the other carts and they fall out of their frames. You get very little for your money on the front of the carts. Don’t knock adcart because you make more money on Starkart.

  15. Hey Retta, How would you know whether or not I make more money on StarKart?
    That’s too funny! Really.

    Fact is: StarKart is a more flexible program. With StarKart, my clients don’t have to wait for a store to “open up” or wait for an ad rep to sell 4 or 5 advertisers. With StarKart, my advertisers can select up to 4 stores or more for the price of one 6 month Adcart program.

    Furthermore, I can place my advertisers anywhere in the United States! I do what is in the best interest of my clients to get them what they want – exposure and results… regardless of the money I make. It is simply not true that the ads look terrible after a few days and very rarely do they fall out of the frames. The carts are serviced every 8 (eight) weeks: Meaning my clients can change-up thier ads, versus waiting 6 months to change an ad that is not working, and by that time they must be so discouraged with the outcome, that a renewal would be virtually impossible.

    Anyone reading this who wants the real scoop on grocery cart advertising from experts in advertising, marketing and promotion? Find out the “right way” to advertise on grocery carts! I will show you how to get trackable direct measurable results, not just branding or exposure from a poorly designed ad.

    Feel free to phone me directly at (702) 644-7313 or visit our website at for more information. Thank you for taking the time to read this and for having an open mind. Any grocery cart ad can in fact “work” when done properly!

    Best regards,
    Kurt Schaefer

  16. Where can I find the displays themselves for purchasing? Both of you have valid points, but the front of the cart is the premier placement option.

  17. Check out Cart Art America they have the largest cart advertising available.
    This is a far better way to spend your advertising dollar if you are planning to advertise in a store.

  18. Granted, Cart Art America’s ads are very nice and bigger than most grocery cart advertising. However, bigger does not always mean better. Their inventory of stores (mostly drug stores) is extremely limited and the cost is very high. Chances are they will not be able to service your area if you are a small to medium size business.

    If you would like to receive massive local exposure and results; we have access to over 10,000 major grocery store chains throughout the United States and stores located right in your home town. Compare our inventory, price, quality and service.

    We work with local business to help them become best known in their own neighborhood. Please visit:
    http://www.xtremeadvertising to find out more on how we can help and for pricing on grocery cart advertising.

    Thank you,
    Grocery Cart Advertising Specialist

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