There has been much talk of the Little & Often grocery shopping trend: At the start of 2017 we saw a continued increase in the proportion of shoppers who had abandoned weekly main shops in favour of shopping little and often, rising from 11 to 16%. In January however, there was no change in that figure suggesting that this trend may have reached its ceiling.
Instead shoppers are widening the number of stores in their grocery repertoire. The average repertoire is now 5 stores or websites visited to buy groceries in the last fortnight – an increase of 1 since 2017. This means that shoppers are not only making the most of the wide range of options available to them, they are also regularly being exposed to different retail environments and propositions. This greater immersion in the UK grocery sector means that shoppers are able to make more meaningful decisions about the places that best suit their particular shopping needs at any given time, or in any given situation.
As figure 1 shows, UK shoppers are now quite comfortable with switching between stores, and fitting their shopping in around their busy lives. Of course, with both discounters and convenience store brands continuing to increase their estates, the accessibility of choice is so much greater now than in the past. This makes store switching less of an onerous task for shoppers than it used to be.
More active shopping like this has considerable implications for retailers
and brands alike.
If shoppers are picking and choosing between stores for particular items based on their own experience of how well different retailers deliver, there is even greater pressure to differentiate and create memorable in-store experiences. Equally, avoiding or challenging misconceptions based on bad experiences becomes more important.
If shoppers are actively widening their repertoires then loyalty, as we used to know it, is an outdated term.
It’s also important to note that repertoires aren’t just widening, but are also fragmenting across a range of channels or store formats (see Figure 2). This makes it harder to assign dominant shopper missions to different store formats – gone are the days when we could assume large grocery stores were all about main shops and c-stores were just about top up. This in turn means that range planning requires understanding shoppers needs
at a more granular level than simply by channel or format:
Retailers not only need to keep their fingers on the shopper pulse to be sure they are delivering the right ranges and experiences to the shoppers coming into store or visiting online; they also need to be mindful of a range of competitors, not just the directly obvious ones. The local context is becoming at least as important as the national picture.
For brands, it is even more important to carefully plan distribution and portfolio ranging to hit the sweet spot.
This requires a real understanding of changing shopping habits, and the needs of shoppers based on where they are shopping and what mission they are on.
As shopping patterns become more complex, we all need greater clarity of insight to ensure that right range and right message are in the right place at the right time. Add to this the financial pressures that shoppers are under – and the need to proactively persuade them to spend – and 2018 is lining up to be the year when shoppers’ needs must be at the heart of business planning.