Inside the Mind of the Shopper

At the NACS Summit in Chicago this week, Matt McCourt, director of Convenience / Spirits for SymphonyIRI Group, gave insight into consumer purchasing patterns across multiple channels and how to reach shoppers in a changing environment.

“Consumers are thinking about daily living costs. We’re seeing a new conservative shopper driven by affordable indulgences,” McCourt told retailers. 

Trends show more consumers are eating at home to help save on costs, from making their own ice cream sundaes to brewing their own coffee, and are looking at various channels for the best price when making purchasing decisions.

Some 55% of shoppers are shopping at 10 or more retailers. C-stores are seeing increased competition as stores in other channels. One example is Walgreens, which is expanding its offering to include fresh food and beer sales—areas c-stores dominate. In an environment where consumers are shopping multiple channels for the best price, it is important to watch what other channels are doing to stay ahead of the game. 

When choosing where they will shop, customers want conveniently located stores, low everyday prices, stores that make shopping simple, a helpful staff and the best selection on price, among other things, McCourt noted. C-stores can reach customers by instituting loyalty programs or evaluating current loyalty programs to make sure customers are getting a strong value proposition.

Value Reigns

Value remains a driving factor in consumer purchases, with 38% of all consumer packaged goods consumers buying goods on sale-up 2% over last year. Boomers especially (50%), followed by Millennials (46%) and Hispanics will drive to a location based on price. 

Customers also are planning ahead with 86% of shoppers making lists before they go to the store. Core brands are still driving sales with 55% of Americans purchases trusted brands. SymphonyIRI Group found 15% of shoppers always pick the same brands, 17% reported having brands in each category they are loyal to and 13% tend to buy lower price items. “Customers still want their favorite brands, but at a reasonable price,” McCourt said.

Private label is also on the rise. About 99% of consumers are purchasing a private brand in at least one category across multiple channels. In 5-8 years expect to see more customers going toward private brands.

C-stores can help drive sales by featuring easy to find store specials and sales, including more signs on shelves alerting customers to deals. And with more customers planning ahead and eating in, simply marketing in-store isn’t enough. C-stores need to reach customers at home. One way to do this is through social networking, including sending coupons to mobile phones to encourage customers to come into the store.









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