In the retail marketing world, location is everything. One of the most popular display areas for merchandise in a grocery or department store is the hub at the end of an aisle, also known as the endcap. This is highly visible from the popular perimeter shopping areas, and each aisle section contains four. Competition for the right to display products on an endcap can be very fierce, especially among beverage and snack food companies.
An endcap usually contains items which have a higher profit margin, such as carbonated sodas, savory snack foods and seasonal offerings. Quite often it will be stocked with a small supply of items available in a neighboring aisle. The hope is that a customer will visit the regular aisle if a particular flavor or size is no longer available at the endcap. In this way, the display serves as a teaser for the larger assortment of products in the aisles. Even if a customer has no need to venture down a particular aisle, the convenience factor of grabbing a beverage or snack at the endcap has its own appeal.
The endcap is a valuable piece of real estate in any store's layout, so vendors are often willing to pay a premium for the privilege. The display often contains special promotional materials and a prominent sign which appears to promote a discounted or promotional price. Since the product displayed in an endcap may be situated far away from similar products, the customer may easily assume the price is a relative bargain.
For shoppers who shop primarily around the perimeter of the store for essential groceries, the endcaps often provide a temptation to move into the processed food-laden aisles. This is one reason why some shoppers end up paying $45 for what should have been a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk. The proximity of the endcap to the main traffic area encourages impulse shopping, even if the shopper is merely traveling from the back of the store to the cash register.