Latest ‘Shopper Stock Take’ Index Launched – Reveals Increase in Shopper Promiscuity for the Right Experience


… The average UK shopper now visits four different grocery brands a month, and shops for groceries five times a fortnight…


– For its fourth consecutive year, shopper research agency Shoppercentric, have today launched its Shopper Stock Take Index, enabling valuable year-on-year comparisons across UK shopper’s thoughts and feelings about the grocery retail sector.


“Our latest report looks at the behaviour of today’s shoppers and in particular the promiscuity of their repertoires.  We believe mission retention is most likely the biggest challenge in the year ahead for retailers,” said Jamie Rayner, Managing Director at Shoppercentric. “We asked shoppers where they shop, the purpose of their shopping trips and why they use the stores that they do.”

The 2019 Shopper Stock Take index launching today reveals: 


  • Changing behaviours 
    • Shopping in a ‘little and often’ behaviour pattern (as opposed to a weekly or fortnightly big shop) is adopted by 15 percent of shoppers in the UK – a sizeable share of the grocery market.  The data points to the fact that this is starting to plateau
    • In terms of channels used for grocery shopping in the past month (see fig 1 for full chart):
      • There has been an increase in the use of supermarkets and discounters compared with 2018 – quite significantly in the discounter’s case (an increase of nine percent). In December alone, figures showed that 2 in 3 UK shoppers had shopped in Discounter stores.
      • C-stores and online channels have both seen a drop in usage over the past year – of four percent and three percent respectively.
      • Local specialists have seen an increase in usage of two percent – as have subscription channels. 



Key learning – There are signs that the convenience wave might well have hit the wall, at least in the choices that Shoppers are taking to achieve a ‘convenient way of shopping’.  Clearly this is not a defined channel.  Factored into this we need to account for the growing desire for a positive retail experience. Increasingly, shoppers are articulating the expectation that they will make the effort to visit stores that provide a good experience: great bargains; interesting / unusual ranges; friendly / knowledgeable service; ease to shop; demanding inspiration; or indeed the ubiquitous time saving.


  • Widening store repertoires –
    • 1 in 3 shoppers agree that they:
      • ‘Split grocery shopping across different stores / online retailers, buying different things in different places’
      • ‘Switch between different stores / online retailers based on what I need to buy – I know the best places to get what I want’
    • 1 in 4 shoppers agree that they:
      • ‘Tend to fit grocery shopping in where / when I can’
      • ‘Shop a wider variety of stores / online retailers now than I used to’
    • It’s not all about pricing, with 3 in 4 Discounter shoppers also shopping in the major multiples.
    • The average shopper repertoire is now four grocery retailers a month.
    • The report identified five repertoire drivers (see fig 2), each of which offer retailers a point of difference. They are: Price, Precision, Proximity, Portability and Pleasure.



Key learning – Whilst the Discounters are clearly differentiated from the competition because of their focus on price, their growth has been driven, in part, by their aggressive store opening strategies making them more accessible.  The best chance that more established retailers have in challenging the Discounters is to identify and play to their own strengths, in order to defend their role in shoppers’ repertoires. The major multiples know they can’t take their slice of the pie for granted, but by defaulting to price as the solution they chase short term impact at the cost of long-term stability.  Truly understanding store choice is clearly beyond price and accessibility.


  • Shopper expectations of retailers –
    • Good quality, fresh produce is of critical importance to 55 percent of shoppers, topping the wish list.
    • Having competitive prices comes in second place with 52 percent.
    • Being treated with respect also scores highly (and takes third place) with 45 percent.
    • Ethical shopping, ideas/inspiration and helping one to learn new things bottom out the wish list (see fig 3).



Key learning – Today’s shoppers care more about quality, price and service than they do about a stress-free shopping experience – arguably what digitisation is designed to achieve. If the three desired basics of retail aren’t being delivered, no amount of clever technology will make the experience good enough for them to come back.  Using technology alone is not the answer. 


  • Shoppers of the future –
    • So how is the future looking? It is worthwhile taking a look at the behaviour of the younger cohorts of shoppers coming through.
    • There’s a clear difference between shoppers aged 18-24 and older shoppers in their shopper behaviour (see Fig 4 and 5).
      • These younger shoppers are using mobile phones far more when shopping (53 Vs 38 percent of the total sample) and are more likely to have naturally engaged new technologies for shopping, for example wearables and smart speakers such as Alexa and Google+.
      • Younger shoppers are also much less likely to speak to staff than older shoppers (17 Vs 26 percent) or use a catalogue (eight Vs 12 percent).
      • These shoppers of the future are also more likely to access promotions via their smartphones – 32 Vs 19 percent of the total sample.
      • In terms of future behaviours, younger shoppers are more likely to expect to use a range of devices as part of their shopping in the future and in particular, 14 percent (compared with eight percent of the total sample) feel that they will use digital screens more often in the future). Smart Tvs also featured highly in their future shopping plans.
      • Perhaps surprisingly, younger shoppers are just as likely to use bricks & mortar stores as shoppers in general. Just one in 10 say they use online shopping most often for their groceries, with supermarkets being their preferred channel.



Key learning – Retailers and manufacturers need to be delivering the type of content and experiences that appeal to this age group. Not only are they digitally savvy, they are a cynical and demanding group to satisfy. This up and coming group of shoppers are more likely to be fitting shopping in around the activities and routines that are important to them and they expect retailers to proactively help them adopt better habits.



Rayner concludes: “It’s relentless, again, we see further changes in the retail landscape.  It takes focus and clarity to keep up, and a sustained effort to better understand shopper behaviour and their needs.  Not only do we need to look wider at the relationships that consumers are having with retailers for ‘mainstream’ grocery items, but also consumers ‘eating’ habits in general.  To provide retail environments that take a step change to meet these needs are urgent and necessary if you take into account how long it really takes to elicit change and have a differentiating offer.  The future will be different, but success will always be based on persuading shoppers to buy.”


Author: kimbarnard

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