What really influences shoppers?

August 9, 2011 by Dave Haynes

One of the numbers that gets trotted out consistently to make the argument for the impact of in-retail digital is the idea that 70 percent of buying decisions happen once consumers are in the store.

If shoppers are right there, and open to influence, the visuals and calls to action of digital can move the needle, the argument goes.

Two new bits of research offer very different arguments about what actually happens in store.

As reported in Progressive Grocer, the retail consulting firm AlixPartners did a survey on consumer attitudes and patterns and found that while at least 80 percent of shoppers use shopping lists and base plans on coupons and flyers, 93 percent of those surveyed said product displays and in-store signage could influence them to purchase items not on shopping lists.

“Consumers remain focused on value, regardless of income levels, and promotions and coupons continue to stretch their spending on groceries,” says Russ Jones, director in AlixPartners’ global retail practice. “And, as product display and signage remain two of the most important factors influencing purchasing, this continues to be an area of opportunity for grocers to communicate value.”

So that nails it. People will move off their buying plans if sufficiently notified and enticed by signs, like sales promos. Right?

Well …

The Campbell Soup Company (which will play an important role in the Mac and Cheese I am making for dinner) has issued research that suggests shoppers make 80 percent of their decisions on what they’re going to buy before they walk into a grocery.

The Campbell study, reports RetailWire, differs from others by attempting to explain the path to purchase. In other words, rather than simply map the “who, what and where” of the path, Campbell’s research explores the “why, how and what could be,” says Phil McGee, director-shopper insights at Campbell.

“Context is king,” he says. “Goals within context drive shopper decisions. If my goal is to buy for tonight’s meal and I’m in the supermarket, I’ll decide one way. If I’m planning for the weekend, and I’m home flipping through circulars, I’ll decide another way.”

To better understand how context affects decision making, McGee describes the notion of shoppers’ proximity to consumption. “The further away shoppers are from the time of consumption, the more aspirational they are when considering choices; this means health benefits become more important for foods that shoppers will be eating in the future. By contrast, shoppers in the store buying for meals they’ll eat soon focus primarily on sensory appeal and taste expectations, and secondarily on value.”

McGee says that generally, the battle for value takes place outside the store. “Shoppers have already decided by where they go to shop that a particular store will give the best value for that particular trip. The retailer is a proxy for price, and shoppers generally won’t try to nickel and dime once there.”

So there you have it. Clear as Cream of Potato soup.

  1. ian Dobson says:

    Thanks for sharing the “What real Influences Shoppers” Dave….great article and additional support materials to understand what the value DS really brings to the experience..helpful information for future sales pitches….

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