While researchers have been insisting that lists are in and impulse buys are out ever since the recession started, a new study from the NPD Groups sheds new light on just how committed consumers are to those behaviors. An amazing 94% prepare a written list before leaving the house, and 72% say they never or rarely deviate from it.
"No matter what stores and marketers tend to believe, consumers aren't walking into stores with a blank slate," Ann Hanson, executive director of product development and author of the report, tells Marketing Daily. "They have an agenda. And for marketers, that means it's all about how to get on the list."
For retailers, it's all about "helping consumers get what they want. About 70% of people shop multiple channels, and stores that can get creative -- using list functions on their websites, developing list software, even providing ways she can send her list ahead of time and just pick up her groceries -- have a better chance of taking those trips back."
In its "Before the Store" report, NPD tracked consumers through the entire process of menu planning, meal preparation, and eating behavior, as well as following through to the supermarket. While women still tend to do most of the family's food-related work, the whole family contributes to the list: 60% of married and family households pencil in what they want, and kids add to lists in 40% of homes.
For the most part, Hanson says, the survey confirmed that Americans tend to shop, cook and eat the way they always have -- recession or not. "Most people still plan out their meals for the week and shop accordingly," she says, "with about half shopping once a week, and 80% shopping once a week or more." Some 81% of U.S. consumers usually eat dinner at home.
"For marketers, that means marketing to people in their homes is more important -- people eat many times a day, but shop only once a week. People are looking for recipes and ideas on the Internet, so food websites are really important."
Of the 25% who do buy on impulse, value is the main motivation: 80% say they do so when they see an item on sale, 67% say they buy when they see items and remember they were needed, and 37% say they do so when something looks like a good meal or snack solution.