How can retailers get shoppers over low points and drive impulse sales?

Discussion
Photo: Mars
Jan 14, 2016

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

Mars Chocolate has concluded from global research about shoppers’ “emotional journey” to buy candy and gum that “checkout is the emotional low point of the shopping journey, no matter where or how you pay.”

Retailers can help overcome this low point and capture more impulse purchases by merchandising to better satisfy the three key “need states” of shoppers:

Refresh: Shopping can be stressful and tiring, so shoppers look to refresh or recharge themselves once the job is done, the company said. Items fulfilling the “refresh” need state, Mars believes, including gum, mints, beverages and snacks, should occupy 51 percent of total space, according to its research that developed guidelines based on national averages across channels.

Reward: Shoppers often seek a treat or reward, such as chocolate and non-chocolate candy, after the “chore” of shopping is complete. Items addressing the “reward” mentality should occupy 39 percent of a retailer’s total space devoted to the category, Mars has concluded.

Remind: It is helpful for shoppers to find items they forgot to add to their lists, such as batteries and lip balm, in the transaction zone, in addition to confections and other snacks. These items should occupy about 10 percent of the total space, the company said.

Mars and its Wrigley division are also collaborating with retailers in new and growing purchasing areas. Shoppers are transacting with confectionary brands and products in other parts of the store, including the pharmacy, and on their mobile phones and even with “buy online, pickup-in-store” models. They’re updating their merchandising recommendations to include new variables that are “agnostic” to the location of the transactions.

“It’s no secret that people don’t shop like they used to, and the traditional mix of impulse items in transaction zones needs to better meet consumer needs,” said Kurt Laufer, VP of U.S. sales for Wrigley.

How do you see the shopper mindset changing at checkout and how does that impact merchandising opportunities? How do you see impulse buys extending to other areas of the store?

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Braintrust
"I don’t detect any revolutionary insight in the Mars merchandising framework, but I do think there is value in understanding shoppers’ "emotional journeys." Waiting in queue and paying the money is bound to be less uplifting than filling the cart."

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8 Comments on "How can retailers get shoppers over low points and drive impulse sales?"


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Ralph Jacobson
Guest
6 years 4 months ago

Shopping IS impulsive for most of us already. Retailers should and will continue to take advantage of this. I think the time is right to take impulse merchandising to the next level. Why not make the POS area a bit more interactive? Staff a few people up front to offer premium coffee, light meals (sandwiches, etc.) or complimentary items added to their purchases, depending on the type of retailer. Don’t just pile up bins of cheap stuff to dig through but high-margin, high-quality items. And hire staff people to do this throughout the store eventually.

James Tenser
Guest
6 years 4 months ago

I don’t detect any revolutionary insight in the Mars merchandising framework, but I do think there is value in understanding shoppers’ “emotional journeys.”

If I were to craft the research hypotheses, one would be that waiting in queue and paying the money is bound to be less uplifting than filling the cart. Finding a parking space in a crowded lot may be even worse.

It’s a good thing, I think, to question ancient assumptions about what items should be offered in the checkout aisle. Shaving products and batteries were prominent once. Now I don’t see them as often. Small beverage coolers are more common than they used to be.

Not all of these changes are driven by research into shopper emotion, but assortment choices are very often a matter of continuous A/B testing. I’d like to believe that the broad guidelines Mars proposes are subject to local, data-driven adjustment.

Li McClelland
Guest
Li McClelland
6 years 4 months ago

Candy and gum have always been great impulse tempters as shoppers, especially those with kids along, wait to check out. The increase of self checkout lanes has almost completely eliminated that key impulse purchase channel.

Joan Treistman
Guest
6 years 4 months ago

Here’s a simplistic perspective. At checkout there’s an opportunity to grab attention while shoppers are waiting their turn. If done properly that attention can trigger a rational decision (I need another pack of gum) to an emotional/impulse purchase (that pack of gum will make me feel refreshed).

I recommend that marketers don’t limit themselves to one influential message when they can achieve several. However, the key to success is attracting the consumer’s attention in the first place. And that’s not limited to checkout, but is a requirement to sales throughout the store.

Every package and display is competing for the attention of the shopper. And every first-time buy, whether strictly emotional or rational, has an impulse dynamic to it. In-store communication has to happen on sight for all purchases. And for repeat purchases marketers must insure that their package is seen before the impulse buy can happen.

J. Kent Smith
Guest
6 years 4 months ago

I think this research nails it in the CPG channel. I think there are implications beyond merchandising, too, including the design of the check out, other amenities and how the cashier interacts. If a retailer doesn’t sell these products they might consider adding a sweet or two, or looking for low ticket “feel good” items to put by the cashier. There’s implications here for even department stores.

Karen McNeely
Guest
6 years 4 months ago

My first thought when I read this was, “Slow news day?” As James points out, there is nothing revolutionary here.

I think the best improvement in impulse items, and this isn’t even new, is the use of the single line for multiple registers that allows additional square footage to present impulse items. Old Navy does this better than just about anyone, although Sephora does an excellent job as well.

Tom Martin
Guest
Tom Martin
6 years 4 months ago

The shopper’s mindset has dramatically evolved over the last few years. Instead of standing idly while checking out, customers are on their phones while they’re in line. While some may be searching Facebook or playing Candy Crush, a good majority are likely loading offers to a store’s app or pulling up online coupons. What better way to encourage an impulse buy than to blast a related offer to their phone (once they opt in or use a store’s app while in the store)? It brings the offer directly to the consumer, without them having to even look at shelves for any discounts on impulse buys or things they may have forgotten.

The same applies for online shopping, too. When a customer is on the checkout page, offering suggestions that relate to items in their cart can help spur impulse buys.

Chris Weigand
Guest
6 years 4 months ago

A slight tangent: I felt that the use of lighting goes a long way to affecting mood and interest at checkout. Our local Giant Eagle recently infused their check lanes with cool LED down and up lighting on magazines and candy. As a shopper it elevated the typically pedestrian check lane shopping experience: fresher it up, cleaned it up…elevated it. As a designer I felt the cool white lights created a nice compliment and contrast to the warm lighting found overhead. If the LED lights had been warm, then they risked getting lost, or nullifying the effect completely due to over saturation of tactic (lighting).

It’s almost that we become immune to the check lane experience and the lighting was a nice way to elevate it.

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Braintrust
"I don’t detect any revolutionary insight in the Mars merchandising framework, but I do think there is value in understanding shoppers’ "emotional journeys." Waiting in queue and paying the money is bound to be less uplifting than filling the cart."

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