Marketers to Adjust to New Consumer Shopping Patterns

Consumers changed the way they shop for groceries and other essentials during the recession. Small, immediate need trips dropped slightly at grocery stores but increased at super centers, indicating that consumers may be trying to save money. For many,  these new shopping patterns may endure. As a result, marketers may need to change their marketing strategies to influence shoppers.

Both the Wall Street Journal and Nielsen research indicate that consumers are making more frequent trips for a smaller number of items when they visit super centers and club stores. However, consumers are also increasing their larger shopping trips to grocery, drug, and dollar stores. Here’s how the percentages break out for trips made and spending that takes place during these trips:

  • Small- to satisfy immediate needs (61%) — $15
  • Medium – to meet fill-in needs (21%) — $51
  • Large – routine, done perhaps weekly (12%) — $98
  • Extra Large – stock up (6%) — $242

Senior Vice President, Consumer & Shopper Insights, Todd Hale, points out two important trends. Affluent shoppers, those with household income exceeding $100,000 are making more small trips to super centers. At the same time, they’re increasing the amount they spend per trip at drug and dollar stores. Consumers at the lower end of the income spectrum, those with household incomes below $20,000, are driving less. They now tend to do their large grocery and club shopping in fewer trips. Hale suggests this “may be indicative of pay period buying behavior.”

Retailers looking to capture consumers who are making the small shopping trips to fill immediate needs should know that the top 3 items purchased include milk, bakery products and pet care items. Promoting these items on a regular basis, either through traditional circulars or online coupons, could increase store traffic.

[Source: Hale, Todd. The Just-in-Time Consumer: How Shopping Trips Align with Economic Woes. NielsenWire​.com. 13 Jan. 2011. Web. 28 Jan 2011]
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.