Grocery Shoppers Still Fighting Impulse Buys


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.

4 comments about "Grocery Shoppers Still Fighting Impulse Buys ".
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  1. Candice Seiger from Luminosity Marketing, September 14, 2010 at 10:44 a.m.

    Luminosity Marketing found similar results in our Little Luxuries Project. Our latest video clip focuses on planned and impulse buying. View the clip at

  2. Rick Graner, September 14, 2010 at 10:49 a.m.

    Studies like these are great but they don't mention anything about the size of the study or how they conducted the study. Knowing that data adds added value to the article and the necessary transparency.

  3. Terry Soto from About Marketing Solutions, Inc, September 14, 2010 at 11:54 a.m.

    With multicultural shoppers representing as much as 50% in many parts of the country, I'd be interested in differences between the total sample and these cultural segments (i.e. Hispanics, African American and Asian).

  4. Michael Guyer from BrandShare360, September 14, 2010 at 1:31 p.m.

    We have similar feedback from our CPG Clients … their goal being to introduce the brand to the consumer in their home so they will add the brand to their shopping list. How?, they use our Catalog Package Sampling Program™ for this brand introduction, where we deliver their product sample or brand ad insert/coupon directly into the home of targeted consumers via Cataloger & Online Retailer merchandise packages. We have trial, conversion, and intent-to-purchase rates as well as consumer comments.

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