Shoppercentric research reveals changing face of grocery shopping


New research into changing shopper behaviour and store choice has been launched today by Shoppercentric, a leading independent shopper research agency. The report, entitled: “Window On…Fragmented Shopper Repertoires” surveyed more than 1,100 UK shoppers aged 18+ on how and where they shop regularly.

“The debate over whether UK shoppers are really switching from big main grocery shops to smaller, more frequent shops is a hot topic in the retail sector right now,” said Danielle Pinnington, managing director at Shoppercentric. “The big four grocery retailers are turning their sights from large format one-stop-shops to smaller c-store formats, yet panel research suggests that the convenience channel has actually lost share in the past five years. We decided to talk to shoppers directly and find out how they believe their habits are changing.”

Key findings:

  • Changing behaviours:

o   70% of UK shoppers said they had changed their household shopping habits of late – either using different stores, or altering the frequency with which they go shopping

o   20% admitted to shopping for the household more frequently of late, however 38% said they were shopping a wider variety of stores – indicating a change in shopper repertoire

o   On average, shoppers used over five retailers across three different channels in the last month to meet their household grocery shopping needs

o   Shoppers who had recently extended their repertoires, shopped at more than seven different stores in the last month – and alarmingly for the big four, for one in 10 shoppers, this range did not include a standard, large format supermarket in the last month

  • Key change drivers:

o   Passion – which is about providing well for the family – 51% of shoppers agreed that they took great pride in shopping for the household

o   Pleasure – 23% of those with bigger repertoires these days said they found it more interesting/inspiring to shop in different places. 17% also said that they find it boring to shop in the same stores all the time

o   Price – 29% of the extended repertoire shoppers admitted that they switch between stores based on the vouchers they get sent

o   Proximity – 54% of UK shoppers said that they liked to get grocery shopping over and done with so they could spend time on the important things in life, so they look for ways to minimise time spent shopping by shopping locally, or in smaller stores. And of course proximity can be maximised by shopping online: 62 percent of UK shoppers who buy groceries online reference ‘saving’ time as a key channel choice driver; and 34 percent talk about being able to use their favourites list

  • Where are shoppers spending:

o   Loyalty – 17% of self-defined “Tesco shoppers” claim to spend more in other stores. Similarly, 14% of self-defined “Sainsbury’s and Morrison’s shoppers” claim to spend more in other stores. In contrast more Asda and Co-op self-defined loyalists are true to their word, with only 7% of them claim to be spending more elsewhere

o   Average number of stores – Waitrose shoppers used the highest number of stores (6.2) in the past month, closely followed by Asda shoppers with 5.8 shops. Co-op shoppers used the least number of stores (4.4)

  • Savvy shoppers:

o   45% of shoppers recognise that different stores have different strengths and disagree wholeheartedly that one store is very much like another.  This increases to 53% of those whose repertoires have recently expanded

o   34% of shoppers say they go to different stores to get different things because no one store has the best of everything.  Again, this increases to 55% of those whose repertoires have grown bigger

o   27% say they have actively dropped certain product types from their ‘grocery shopping’ trips, preferring to buy them elsewhere. Unsurprisingly, this increases to 35% of those with extended repertoires

“A change in shopper repertoires presents retailers and brands with huge challenges,” said Pinnington. “This apparent decline in ‘loyalty’ (in the traditional sense) indicates a need to move beyond traditional tactics in order to maintain repeat footfall, and it must include a tangible move beyond price wars, which themselves are encouraging promiscuity. Perhaps it is time that retailers and brands start working together to focus more on shoppers’ emotional needs around passion and pleasure. After all, these are more likely to hold the key to unlocking the long standing shopper loyalty that is becoming more and more elusive.”

Pinnington concluded: “Ultimately, retailers can no longer afford to assume that theirs is the store shoppers will visit most often or spend most of their household grocery budget in.  Shoppers have had their eyes opened by the much wider range of stores open to them and varying economic pressures which have impacted budgets and choices. Blind loyalty is a thing of the past for many – going forward, loyalty must be earned.”