Free Subscription

  • Access 15 free news articles each month


Try one month for $5
  • Unlimited access to news,insights and opinions
  • Quarterly and weekly magazines
  • Independent research reports and forecasts
  • Quarterly webinars with industry experts
  • Q&A with retail leaders
  • Career advice
  • Exclusive Masterclass access. Part of Retail Week 2021

Debunking shopper myths


shopping aisle supermarketThe current shopping experience is far from ideal.

Ten per cent of a shopper’s time is spent in active selection, while the rest is spent navigating the environment.

On average, 30 per cent of shoppers walk away without buying, despite having browsed the shelf.

The disruptive approach to merchandising often stops many from buying anything at all: 20 per cent of items we plan to buy don’t make it into the basket.

The potential success of new launches is also impacted, with 86 per cent of new product developments failing within the first year.

This poor performance relates to a lack of awareness of the shopper process of search and selection.

Retailers must establish a clear shelf hierarchy to help shoppers find relevant products (search) and create recognisable groupings to help identify options (selection).

This process is integral to addressing the three key shopping myths that are challenging sales and growth.

TNS_Stop_Interrupting_Shoppers-3Myth #1: Holding shoppers for longer at the shelf will increase purchasing

The longer we hold shoppers at shelf the more likely they will walk away empty handed. Spending speed is critical.

Stores that sell faster sell more, and categories that convert faster, convert better.

Speed also impacts volume, as faster shoppers purchase additional items.

Searching is a negative experience and positive emotions are experienced only when relevant products are found.

The solution

Grow sales by making it easy for shoppers to find what they want and align shelf structure with their search to reduce search time.

Category engagement can be increased by quickly facilitating a mindset change from search to selection.

Myth #2: Disrupting shoppers will improve engagement

Most shopper marketing and communication fails to engage the shopper, with 85 per cent of instore communication not even seen by shoppers.

When in search mode, point of sale and other products effectively become invisible because shoppers focus on what they want.

The solution

The way to open the minds of shoppers isn’t to interrupt or extend their search, but rather to help them to complete it by working with their agenda.

Myth #3: 70 per cent of decisions are made at shelf, so use it to influence shoppers 

Most shoppers have already decided what to buy.

Sixty nine per cent of supermarket shoppers buy the same brand as last time and 45 per cent buy exactly the same product.

Similar figures apply to impulse purchases. Product choice is largely decided irrespective of category.

The solution

Activation success depends on making a distinction between the two shopper tasks.

Decided shoppers need a search-led structure to meet their needs and improve efficiencies, but the shelf must also cater for ‘open’ shoppers who require a merchandised product grouping.

Shelf layout and merchandising often fails to meet shopper needs so, in order to grow sales, retailers must align shelf structure with the shopper’s search to reduce time.

Shoppers can then move from search to selection mode as quickly as possible, and retailers can support both modes to balance the shelf for both decided and open shoppers.

Peter Firth is a director at shopper insights agency, TNS Global. He advises on growth strategies around new market entry, innovation, brand switching, and stakeholder management.

You have 7 free articles.