How do the modern day consumers gather food?

According to a survey from IPSOS panel among a representative sample of 900 US primary grocery shoppers, the picture that emerges is one of a systematic and rational shopper
How do the modern day consumers gather food?

In the United States shoppers have become more rational. That’s the picture that emerges in a survey from IPSOS panel among a representative sample of 900 US primary grocery customers. The finding shows that our modern day food gatherers tend to select stores that are complementary to one another, offering the best of the range of items they buy, and at the prices they are willing to pay. The modern day food gatherer also exhibits a predictable shopping pattern, starting with their primary grocery stores (i.e., national grocery, regional grocery or mass merchandiser) and then proceeding to more specialized retailers to complete their shopping (e.g., Club Stores, Deep Discount, Drug, Specialty). And finally, what brings a shopper to a specific retailer is high quality fresh food, the basic food items that we eat all the time. These fresh foods are items that shoppers almost always buy when they shop at the store (i.e., destination products). While we may have advanced beyond our foraging forefathers with modern day grocery stores and even online grocers, our fundamental need for high quality fresh food has remained unchanged.

The pattern of foraging for food that IPSOS presents has important implications for both how research on grocery shopping should be conducted as well as what retailers and manufacturers can do to optimize their sales. From a research perspective, the findings show that American customers need to research grocery shopping within a larger context. Too often, the scope of retailer studies focus on shopping missions, shopping for only a single category, and/or is restricted to primary grocery stores only. Our findings lead us to believe that we need to take into account a shopper’s entire grocery shopping routine to fully understand grocery shopping behavior.

To optimize sales, retailers need to similarly understand the entire shopping journey of a consumer, not just the primary grocery store they shop at or specific trip types. From a retailer perspective, it may be about maximizing share of wallet as opposed to maximizing share of customers. The specific sequence of grocery shopping can also be leveraged by retailers. Knowing, for example, that a certain group of shoppers always skips the fruit section at a national grocery chain and instead opts to shop for fruits at Whole Foods at a later time is clearly a problem the national grocery chain would need to address. Finally, from a manufacturer’s perspective, the finding that shoppers shop at multiple stores for different items presents them with the opportunity to optimize where to place their products. Knowing for example that a group of shoppers almost always buys bottled water from Club Stores as part of their routines, suggests that a launch of a new bottled water product should not only be distributed in national grocery chains but also in Club Stores, and with the right package size, to ensure maximum trial of the new product.

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