What Do Your Shoppers Want?

What's making shoppers tick? How are they responding to a rapidly changing retail and economic environment? How do we best meet their needs and wants now?

These questions are answered by Keri-Jane Akester, Director, Shopper Tracker, as she provides the results of the largest annual shopper survey in Australia. The survey provides an up-to-the-minute view on the buying behaviour of the nation's grocery shoppers.


The way we shop is undergoing radical and faster paced change than ever before and its not slowing down in 2012. Understanding what matters at a category level is key to developing actionable shopper insights.

These are the key trends we've observed:

1.    Value - but not necessarily the cheapest

Shoppers are increasingly searching for the 'best value' not necessarily the best price.

Retailer-led price cutting strategies are nothing new, however in 2011 this appeared more targeted where it matters to the shopper. Price image and perception along with actual price is clearly a key priority for retailers, and shoppers increasingly know the price of more items in more categories versus previous years. In-store messaging can leverage these differences by category, segment, or brand. Where shoppers claim to know the price, price can be used in the messaging; where they don't and the bargain matters more, saving is the focus.

In reviewing attitudes to price, from a shopper segmentation perspective, there has been a dramatic shift from 2010 to 2011 in the increase in shoppers who 'browse by price'. Shoppers want a deal or a bargain, rather than only 'focusing on cheap' or the cheapest in the category. Knowing where this matters the most, by categories, will assist in the execution of shopper-led promotional strategies, and those retailers that leverage this successfully will set themselves apart from the competition.

2.    Quality - but not at all costs

As a result of an increased importance on price, shoppers tell us that other factors, such as the perception of premium quality, has declined year on year. In 2011 there was a marked difference by categories on how prepared shoppers were to 'pay for better quality'. This correlates with an improved home brand offer that has led to more acceptance of home brand, so now in many categories shoppers may not have to pay more for better quality.

As well as quality, there are many other factors shoppers rank as important beyond price. This includes Australian made, ethical, better for your health, and freshness. In leveraging these factors by category, marketing messages can go beyond price.

3.    Inspire me - where it matters

Despite the focus on value, shoppers are still looking for innovation and inspiration; manufacturers need to know where this matters most so they can capitalise on it.

As we have seen, it is not all about price. One of the more significant shifts observed in the 2011 Shopper Tracker report is the decline in shoppers who say 'there are often appealing new ideas in store'. Shoppers tell us they want inspiration and that it has potentially been overlooked, in favour of focusing on price messaging in some categories. Shoppers still want new products, new ideas, and meal inspirations, particularly for 'dinner tonight' categories. The top three categories where shoppers want more inspiration at shelf are simmer sauces, chilled ready meals, and marinades.

However in contrast to wanting more inspiration, sometimes the simpler the better. 43% of shoppers say they just want to 'grab and go'. They know what they want, have a routine they stick to, and want to get in and get out. The number one category for grab and go / 'get me out of here' is milk, followed by bread, and fresh vegetables. Knowing which categories the purchase decision is made pre-store has very different implications for shelf recommendations. For these categories, you want to keep it simple with clear signage and merchandising.

The year ahead - Focus on what makes your category different

Key to developing shopper-led plans is leveraging the role each category plays in store for the shopper, and the retailer.

It is no longer enough to have a one-size fits all approach. You need to ask yourself the following questions:

  • What matters to the shopper at category level?
  • Which categories do shoppers want a good price verses a promotion?
  • Which categories are driven more by display than price?
  • Where does premium matter more?
  • What do shoppers want to see improved by category at point of purchase?

All these questions need to be answered to create compelling shopper-led category plans that engage the retailer.

Each category has a role to play in the eyes of the shopper. The more we understand what motivates them by channel, category, and mindset the more we can do to deliver what your shopper wants.

About the Shopper Tracker Australia benchmarking study

Shopper tracker interviews more than 50,000 shoppers each year on their needs, attitudes and perceptions supporting their behaviour in over 150 categories in grocery, pharmacy, convenience and liquor channels. It brings together category role, shopper needs, point of purchase, and path to purchase metrics that provide a valuable insight into the minds of your shoppers and the reasons for their behaviour. From this information changes to shopper-led category plans can be made.

For further information please contact the Shopper Tracker team on 02 8873 0801 or email Simon.Ford@Advantagegrp.com.au