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Catalina-Grocery-Shopper-Selectivity-Jan2014An analysis of more than 32 million shoppers across almost 10,000 grocery stores during a 52-week period ending in mid-year 2013 has found that on average, shoppers bought just 0.7% of available products. The study, conducted by Catalina Marketing [download page], also reveals that this selectivity tends to apply across various grocery departments and is relatively consistent when segregating shoppers by age and income. 

Consumers’ selectivity is even more pronounced when looking at their weekly and quarterly shopping habits. While they purchased an average 260 UPCs of the 35,372 available on store shelves over the course of the year (0.7%), on a quarterly basis they purchased an average of just 83 items (0.23% of those available) while on a weekly basis they bought just 13 different items (0.04%).

What’s interesting to see is that the figures don’t appear to have been dragged down by infrequent or low-value shoppers. Instead, the top shoppers in the study – who accounted for 80% of retailers’ sales during the period – bought only 1% of available items. While that’s higher than the overall average, it still reflects very strong selectivity.

The researchers point out that “the proliferation of targeted products has achieved the goal of meeting the more individualized preferences of today’s consumers.” And individualized they are: no two of the 32 million shoppers analyzed bought the same array of products over the course of the year.

Catalina makes the case that traditional promotions don’t work for these selective shoppers, arguing instead for more personalized programs. As a case study, the researchers present data concerning a major grocery store’s Memorial Day weekly circular. Of the 1,172 items included in the circular, not a single one showed up in two-thirds of the shopping baskets during the week, while another 17% of baskets included only a single advertised item (equating to less than 1% of the items advertised). A week later, 74% of baskets didn’t include any items from the circular, while 15% contained just one.

The takeaways? Catalina recommends that:

  • Retailers and brands better understand the individual needs and behaviors of shoppers so as to deliver them more relevant offers and communications;
  • Marketers examine mobile solutions that can pinpoint shoppers’ buying histories and in-store location so as to get their attention at the “point of decision;” and
  • Marketers retool their delivery of promotions and offers so as to enhance their effectiveness for the customer and brand.

About the Data: The study tracked the purchasing behavior of more than 32 million shoppers who spent over $55 billion across 9,968 U.S. grocery stores during a 52-week period ending June 30, 2013. All of the consumer data came from consistent shoppers who shopped at least twice in every eight-week period and bought more than six different UPCs during the 52 weeks analyzed. The average number of UPCs in each store was 35,372.

The study also analyzed UPC penetrations in shopping baskets by week, quarter and full year by major departments, such as Dairy, Frozen, Center Store Grocery, Non-Grocery and others. In addition, the study analyzed UPC penetrations across five major consumer segmentations that Catalina tracks, including Organic, Weight Management, Heart Healthy, Digestive Health and Health & Fitness.

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