Shoppers looking to supermarkets for non-food

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on July 14, 2004

Shoppers in the UK are starting to make supermarkets their preferred destination when they go out to purchase non-food items such as homewares, clothing and electrical goods, according to new shopper research conducted by food and grocery think-tank, IGD.

According to IGD's latest Shopper Insight report, entitled 'The Non-Food Offer', some 11% of shoppers go to a supermarket purely to buy non-food products.

IGD's study found that shoppers buy non-food categories in different outlets according to what they are buying. For example, supermarkets are the first choice for toiletries and household goods. Household goods, such as washing powder and toilet rolls, are regarded as part of the grocery shop, with over three-quarters of shoppers choosing to buy them in the supermarket. Likewise, almost two-thirds buy toiletries in a supermarket, compared to 22% who use specialists such as Boots, and 6% who use discount retailers.

Specialist vs. supermarket
However, when it comes to cosmetics, 38% prefer to buy these in a specialist store such as a pharmacy (compared to 23% in supermarkets), as they are regarded as a treat or luxury purchase. A specialist clothing store is first choice both when shoppers are buying clothes for themselves (46%) or for children (26%). Supermarkets are the third choice for shoppers buying clothes for themselves (13%), and the second choice (14%) when buying clothes for children.

But 22% of shoppers said they would use a supermarket for buying everyday homewares like pots and pans, and consider that supermarkets provide a good range at affordable prices - whereas department stores are considered to offer more special occasion or premium products. For healthcare products there is little difference between store types, with 43% preferring to go to a specialist, and 39% buying them in a supermarket.

Experts differentiate
According to IGD, where shoppers go largely depends on the level of expertise they require when purchasing. Specialists (for example, pharmacies, electrical stores, and record shops) tend to be the first choice when the shopper feels they need expert advice. But if advice is not important, price becomes more of a determining factor.

When it comes to electrical goods, many shoppers prefer to buy large appliances (60%) and small appliances (46%) in a specialist shop (compared to supermarkets, from which only 11% prefer to buy large appliances and 26% prefer to buy small appliances). Consumers often consider the range to be better in a specialist shop, both in terms of choice and well-known brands, and they also appreciate the specialist advice and after-sales service that is usually available. But small appliances (such as toasters and kettles) are more likely to be purchased in a supermarket because shoppers feel there is less risk in buying these in a non-specialist outlet. However, 16% of shoppers that IGD spoke to said they would be prepared to buy large appliances in a supermarket, indicating potential for market growth.

Key strategy
"After years of development, non-food is becoming a key part of the strategy for most major multiples, and it's clearly paying off," concluded IGD's chief executive, Joanne Denney-Finch. "Our research shows that many shoppers are making supermarkets their destination for many non-food items. They are most attracted by being able to buy everything under one roof, and by the fact that they believe the prices are lower. Both retailers and manufacturers can build on the fact that non-food attracts shoppers into a store, and work together to exploit the opportunities available - for example, cross-category promotions."

The report, 'Shopper Insight - The Non-Food Offer', is one of a quarterly series that examines developments in the food retail environment through the eyes of shoppers. It is available for purchase from IGD's web site.

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