STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Inflation has raised food prices, but apparently not the price for a rotisserie chicken, at least not at Costco.
LEILA FADEL, HOST:
A hot, pre-cooked chicken there is still just $4.99. So what's going on? Ernest Baskin thinks he knows. He's at Saint Joseph's University and a specialist in consumer psychology.
ERNEST BASKIN: The rotisserie chicken is exactly a loss leader strategy.
INSKEEP: The loss leader, when stores offer a low price to get you in the door.
BASKIN: As a consumer, you're looking for deals. And so you look around. And you see, wow, Costco is offering a steal on rotisserie chicken. I'm going to go to Costco to get my steal on rotisserie chicken. And so just by virtue of the fact that you've now stepped in the store, Costco has fulfilled its mission.
FADEL: Some stores lose money on rotisserie chicken, hoping you'll buy other stuff while you're there.
INSKEEP: Costco opened its own poultry plant in Nebraska just to keep the chicken price down for this purpose. And they put the chickens way in the back of the store, past rows and rows of other alluring items.
BASKIN: The store really wants you to walk through the store, see what other items the store has and, ideally, either consider putting them in your basket or actually take the step of putting them in your basket.
FADEL: In other words, keep your sights set on that chicken. Don't be tempted by - ooh - a coffee variety pack.
(SOUNDBITE OF THE MIGHTY IMPERIALS' "JODY'S WALK")
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.