Offers still essential for loyal grocery customers

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on May 28, 2007

Shoppers in the US demand that grocery store products should be on offer, not only when they're trying a new brand but also when buying brands they already strongly prefer, according to a survey by market research firm Synovate.

The survey of 650 shoppers identified an unexpected pattern among even the most loyal of customers, which Synovate calls 'System Beaters'. These are consumers who often have strong brand preferences but have been trained (by manufacturers and retailers) to expect or even require a good deal on price before they will actually buy.

Opportunity in a weakness
Nowhere is the System Beater pattern more pronounced than in carbonated soft drinks, where 75% of these canny consumers said that they have a favourite brand that they strongly prefer, despite requiring a special deal of some kind to actually make a purchase. Furthermore, 58% of System Beaters admitted to switching stores to take advantage of sales on the brands they prefer.

But while System Beater behaviour poses a challenge to maintaining profit margins for certain product categories, it also represents an opportunity for retailers to convince shoppers to visit their store, knowing they will also fill up their basket with other profitable goods.

Split shopping personalities
The research showed that, depending on the category, the same shopper can simultaneously be a System Beater, an Explorer (who enjoys buying interesting items on impulse), and a Planner (who puts the product and even the brand name on their shopping list). For example, among those shoppers exhibiting System Beater behaviour, only 20% did so consistently across all product categories.

The research also found that some product categories tend to be bought on impulse, rather than being planned. Surprisingly, such products can have a great impact on shoppers' overall opinion of a store. Apparently, many shoppers choose which store to go to based on not only what they plan to buy but also on what they might want to browse for.

The findings suggest that retailers may need to assess each product category's total profit contribution to the store by asking if that category can be promoted in a way that brings new shoppers into the store (as in the case of soft drinks). The research report, which is available directly from Synovate, shows a number of ways in which manufacturers and retailers can optimise their shelf and display areas for products, depending on the predominant shopper style for any given product category.

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