Hershey figures out what drives impulse purchases in stores

Jul 10, 2018

Pat Lenius

Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the monthly e-zine, CPGmatters.

The Hershey Company’s research team recently came up with “eight human truths” to help retail partners execute in-store promotions to support impulse purchases.

Renee Balliet, senior manager, shopper insights for Hershey, discussed these human truths in a workshop at the Shopper Insights & Retail Activation Conference recently in Chicago.

  • Indulge. Shoppers seek permission to “give in” to the guilt. They know they can’t be good all of the time and really don’t want to be. Where can retailers and CPG companies capture consumers inside the store to make them stop and savor?
  • Delight. New flavors? New packaging? An exciting retail display? Offer something that breaks up the sometimes mundane or noisy shopping excursion.
  • Score. Help shoppers feel they’re beating the system by giving them a sense that they’ve found a great deal. Make it fun to follow an impulse.
  • Recharge. Sometimes the consumer needs a break to boost energy or improve his or her mood. As an example, Ms. Balliet suggested selling Cliff bars at the front end.
  • Remind. Suggestions can be made for items shoppers neglected to pick up that were on their shopping list or forgot to put on.
  • Inspire. Savvy merchandisers may try to cause customers to stop in front of a product or category that they might not normally visit. How do they do this? By inspiring shoppers with a mental picture of what they could do with this product. “It’s about what you want rather than what you need,” Ms. Balliet noted. “Amplify that want.”
  • Gesture. A retailer who can suggest a smart way for parents to prevent a tantrum from one of their kids and the accompanying stress will win their gratitude.
  • Incent. Customers appreciate the opportunity for an impulse purchase that offers a small yet touching way to connect with their loved ones. “We need to come up with different conceptual plans for what happens when the front end goes away,” Ms. Balliet said.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What advice do you have for using in-store promotions to drive impulse purchases? Which of the eight human truths do you see as most important in this regard?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"Kudos to Hershey for doing the deep dive and applying it to the market in new ways."
"By addressing the underlying psychology of the impulse buy, retailers can make their displays much more effective."
"Kudos for Hershey. It is this kind of research by a CPG company that can lead to closer collaboration with retail partners."

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12 Comments on "Hershey figures out what drives impulse purchases in stores"

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Lyle Bunn (Ph.D. Hon)

Good for Hershey for having a merchandising framework that addresses some reasons that consumers decline to purchase. Each should engage the customer or purchase influencer in the Hershey story for a better engagement experience.

Cathy Hotka

CPG companies are engaging directly with consumers, and need to understand the path to purchase. All of these findings are insightful, positive, and provide actionable insights for future outreach.

Georganne Bender
I see today’s question as concerning two different things: In-store promotions and impulse purchases. In-store promotions are shoppertainment events designed to create a fun and unique experience that encourages shoppers to buy. In this case I would go with Hershey’s Delight and Inspire. Impulse purchases are a whole different animal. Here, Indulge, Score and Incent describe the jobs of end features, merchandise outposts, speed bumps and displays at the checkouts. Women are big impulse shoppers, men not so much. She’ll shop the aisles, but you have to place fixtures loaded with impulse-worthy items in his path. Remind is exactly what we’ve seen at office stores. You’re at the checkout about to pay when you realize you forgot paper. You say, “I’ll get it next time” but the cashier is already reaching under the counter where there’s small stash of most forgotten basic items. Sale saved. Placing product where shoppers can’t miss it is happening in new ways all over the store. Checkout queues at Old Navy that display items not traditionally found on the sales… Read more »
Anne Howe

Acting with eight human truths in mind can give retailers various ways to execute across the category. And it allows for Hershey to help retailers plan activity that can be uniquely paired with retailers’ brands. Kudos to Hershey for doing the deep dive and applying it to the market in new ways.

Michael La Kier

Creating “irresistible shopping experiences” starts with understanding the human truths or shopper motivation behind buying. Kudos (oops, is that one of their brands?) to Hershey for doing the hard work to segment and understand shopper behavior. I wonder if they factored in the fact that most locations where they drive impulse today (near checkout) are rapidly disappearing and more sales are moving online?

Joy Chen

It is terrific that Hershey has used consumer learnings as the foundation to drive their business and in-store merchandising. Depending on the consumer truths above, Hershey can recommend ways to place product in many parts of the store.

Meaghan Brophy
Meaghan Brophy
Senior Retail Writer
2 years 4 months ago

I love this! It’s easy to put together an impulse display that’s visually appealing and has some trend items. But by addressing the underlying psychology of the impulse buy, retailers can make their displays much more effective.

For impulse purchases, indulge, delight and score seem to be the most important. Price point is super significant when it comes to impulse buys, so the product has to be a good deal. I agree with Georganne that impulse buys and in-store displays are by nature two different things.

Doug Garnett
This is a great list for Hershey. I enthusiastically endorse understanding this type of complex situation with a range of values or approaches. Too often it seems we demand of marketing that they choose a single motivator and we run it into the ground. That said, to what degree do these help anyone else? Only as a model. So much in-store display depends on product, category, and what other marketing support there is. If the product is advertised on TV and is a one-time purchase, the in-store experience needs to focus on connecting so that consumers say “ah, that’s the one I saw on TV!” Quite often the in-store workers need to offer a way for the customer get hands-on with the product — not necessarily to try it but to heft it and get a sense of “quality” that we pick up in person. As to what’s most important — you’ve got to get shopper attention. So the element of surprise emphasized here is important. Whether that’s by placement, unusual suggestions for use, or… Read more »
Susan Viamari

Delight is a critical element for marketers to understand and deliver against! Consumers want products that delight, but they also want in-store experiences that delight. What does that mean? It means retailers need to invest to understand what their shoppers are looking for in terms of attributes, packaging, price versus value, placement — those magic four Ps of marketing!

Identifying the goals and the metrics that help attain those goals is critical. With the organization focused on common goals and common metrics, the atmosphere becomes an enabling one, eliminating silo thinking and marketing-versus-sales friction. A cross-functional focus on defined metrics arises, directing every arm of an organization to the same place — success and growth. Well thought-out, strategic metrics will deliver a set of in-store principles that help create better playbooks and execution roadmaps, and they will create execution collaboration.

John Karolefski

Kudos for Hershey. It is this kind of research by a CPG company that can lead to closer collaboration with retail partners.

Kevin Simonson

I think “incent” and “inspire” are the strongest, because they’re both about the magic word, urgency. You have to drive urgency. One aspect of behavioral science that has a dramatic influence on buyer behavior is urgency. For example, the scarcity around a limited product run, an in-store sale that ends in 60 days or the first 20 customers who buy get a free pony, etc.

If you want to gain the psychological upper hand, build scarcity. Appeal to loss aversion. In your copy, sprinkle time-related words. You might indicate low stock warnings in the descriptions of your products. All of which create urgency.

Min-Jee Hwang

Retailers should be appealing to human emotions in their promotions because the shopping experience is an emotional one. Hershey’s has done a wonderful job of breaking down the “eight human truths” that are factored into making a purchase decision. Which of the eight truths is most important to the retailer in driving impulse purchases, depends on the market. For instance, allowing the customer to “indulge” is going to be most influential in food related businesses while “delight” may be more impactful for tech and “score” may work best for apparel. Overall, I think reminding the customer of things they may have forgotten and inspiring them to explore the store are going to be the most important qualities for driving impulsive purchases.

"Kudos to Hershey for doing the deep dive and applying it to the market in new ways."
"By addressing the underlying psychology of the impulse buy, retailers can make their displays much more effective."
"Kudos for Hershey. It is this kind of research by a CPG company that can lead to closer collaboration with retail partners."

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