One of food retailers’ biggest advantages over other industries is the shopping frequency. While down from prior years, most people still shop for groceries about twice a week between a larger stock-up and one or more quick trips. In fact, the Time Use Institute found that on a typical day, 32 million American adults shop at a grocery store — one out of every seven adults nationwide. However, just because millions of Americans buy grocery-type items every given day, this does not guarantee an automatic sale for your company. While a large percentage of purchases may be pre-planned and routine, shoppers increasingly look to spend less by buying less — a very dangerous trend for everyone in the food industry, requiring ever so careful marketing and merchandising decisions and execution to hit the mark.
Even after numerous years of stretching their food dollars, many shoppers continue to look for ways to save. The first step to spending less for most was converting dollars from eating out to cooking at home. A second step was and is a myriad of money-saving measures ranging from list preparation, coupon clipping, tracking sales promotions, switching stores and buying private brands. Whether promotion fatigue or the realization that the easiest way to save is to buy less, numerous recent research studies have found that more shoppers are trying to limit the number of items bought as their primary way to save. Today’s shoppers are notably less interested in bulk purchases, larger package items, stocking up, and family packs — all popular measures just a year or two ago. On the contrary, shoppers say they are more likely to create lists and attempt to stick to them, and are less likely to be enticed by in-store specials — i.e. the limiting of impulse purchases is on the rise. Add to that a greater flexibility in attitude as to what brand (national versus store) they ultimately purchase, and we’ve arrived in a world where we cannot take any purchase or long-standing loyalty for granted.
As such, the marketplace has grown even more complicated. Careful understanding of each shopper segment will allow retailers and manufacturers to connect with shoppers in the right manner. The good news is, while we may have fewer opportunities to connect with shoppers in store, there is a growing number of ways to connect with customers in other ways, including Facebook, Twitter, websites, blogs, loyalty programs and more. After all, every day provides 32 million opportunities to ensure your product makes the cut!