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01/01/2012

Pulse Report: More quick trips

In a concerted effort to control spending at a time of higher food and fuel prices, consumers are adjusting their shopping trip missions and weeding out non-essential purchases.

Stocking up is less popular than it was a few years ago, as many consumers have focused on spreading out their spending over time. To that end, shoppers are making more frequent quick trips and purchasing fewer items at a time, according to data from SymphonyIRI Group.

Robert I. Tomei, president of Symphony Consumer & Shopper Marketing

As a result of these trip mission changes and other factors–such as above-average gas prices–local retail outlets are gaining a larger share of sales. Quick trips account for about half of all trips and one-quarter of sales dollars across channels, SymphonyIRI reports. To capitalize on quick trip opportunities, many mass merchandisers are opening smaller-format stores designed to serve a localized area.

"For retailers, the shift to more quick trip missions translates to more opportunities to engage the shopper in the store," says Robert I. Tomei, president of Symphony Consumer & Shopper Marketing, a business unit of SymphonyIRI Group. "This is an ideal time to raise the bar on in-store initiatives–with highly targeted shelf sets and finely tuned pricing strategies that reflect optimal price-gap thresholds."

Dollar and drug stores are well-positioned for quick trip and fill-in missions. During the economic downturn, these channels have been looking to capture share of wallet by presenting broader assortments, with a strong focus on food and beverage categories. Their efforts have met with success, supporting increases in the quick trip share of total trips of 1.3 percentage points for dollar stores and 1.9 percentage points for drug stores.


Trading stock-ups for quick trips

With purse strings tight, consumers have cut pantry stock-up trips in most retail channels, choosing quick trips instead. Compared with 2008 data, 2011 pantry stock-up trips as a percent of dollar sales fell 1.5 percentage points at grocery stores and 0.6 points at both drug stores and club stores, SymphonyIRI reports. Quick trip share of sales benefited across CPG channels, climbing 0.8 points at grocery stores, 1.4 points at drug stores, 1.7 percent at club stores and 1.8 percent at dollar stores. Both quick trips and pantry stock-up trips captured increased share of dollar sales in the mass/supercenter channel, at the expense of fill-in and special purpose missions.

Quick trip gains were noticeable in the Hispanic marketplace, where consumers generally are large stock-up customers. In 2011, pantry stock-up trips lost 1.3 points in share of dollar sales to quick trips within the Hispanic market segment.

Trip mission as percentage of channel $ sales
Point change 2011 vs. 2008
 
All Outlet
Dollar
Club
Mass/ Super
Drug
Grocery
Pantry Stock-up
-1.1
0.0
-0.6
0.4
-0.6
-1.5
Fill-in
-0.2
-0.2
-1.1
-0.9
0.3
0.4
Special Purpose
0.0
-1.6
0.1
-0.9
-1.2
0.3
Quick Trip
1.2
1.8
1.7
1.4
1.4
0.8
SOURCE: SymphonyIRI Consumer Network™, 52 weeks ended 8/21/2011 vs. same period 2008
43%
Consumers who make purchases on an "as needed" basis rather than stocking their pantries.

TIP: Make the most of consumers' quick trips by focusing on cross-promotions and cross-merchandising.



Opting for less variety

During 2011, consumers increasingly became more careful shoppers. In September, 43 percent cut back on non-essential purchases, up from 39 percent who did so in January 2011, according to SymphonyIRI's MarketPulse Survey. And 28 percent in September said they were buying less variety to reduce the number of products in their shopping baskets, vs. 25 percent in January 2011.

Changes in shopping behaviors
 
Q1 2011
Q2 2011
Q3 2011
Purchase re-useable items such as cloth towels instead of paper towels
16.1%
18.9%
17.7%
Buy less variety to reduce the number of items needed
24.5%
26.8%
27.8%
Purchase larger quantities and/or make larger shopping trips at beginning of the month when more cash is available
30.0%
29.7%
31.0%
Shop at multiple stores to find the lowest prices
40.5%
37.5%
42.9%
Buy more "all-purpose" cleaning supplies to reduce the number of items needed
39.2%
37.7%
41.2%
Purchase only needed items, rather than stocking up, to keep weekly budget in check
38.8%
40.7%
42.8%
SOURCE: SymphonyIRI MarketPulse Survey–January 2011, June 2011, September 2011

What's in the stock-up basket?

While consumers have reduced basket sizes, some categories remain conducive to stocking up. For example, 65 percent of dry packaged dinner purchases were made during pantry stock-up trips to grocery stores, followed by 63 percent of frozen breakfast foods and processed poultry, reports SymphonyIRI. Meat was a large pantry stock-up item across CPG outlets, with frankfurters commanding a 60 percent share of all outlet sales during pantry stock-up trips and luncheon meats pulling a 59 percent share of sales during pantry stock-up trips.

Categories with the highest share of sales made during pantry stock-up trips
 
Club
Grocery
All Outlet
Breakfast Meats
53%
58%
59%
Dinner Sausage
54%
57%
59%
Froz. Appetizers/Snack Rolls
46%
62%
59%
Luncheon Meat
48%
59%
59%
Froz./Refrig. Poultry
50%
58%
59%
Frankfurters
55%
58%
60%
Spaghetti/Italian Sauce
55%
60%
60%
SS Dinners
56%
64%
61%
Processed Froz./Refrig. Poultry
48%
63%
61%
Froz. Breakfast Foods
49%
63%
62%
Dry Packaged Dinners
55%
65%
63%
Source: SymphonyIRI Consumer Network™, 52 weeks ended 8/21/2011 vs. same period 2008

Categories with the highest share of sales made during quick trips
 
Dollar
Drug
All Outlet
Wine
45%
61%
36%
Vitamins
39%
47%
36%
Chocolate Candy
61%
72%
37%
Cold/Allergy/Sinus Tablets
54%
47%
38%
Non-chocolate Candy
64%
72%
39%
Pet Supplies
55%
59%
40%
Beer/Ale/Alcoholic Cider
51%
71%
46%
Pest Control
52%
53%
47%
Spirits/Liquor
38%
67%
47%
Lawn Fertilizer/Weed Killer
43%
54%
59%
SOURCE: SymphonyIRI Consumer Network™, 52 weeks ended 8/21/2011 vs. same period 2008

Hot quick-trip purchases

Consumers were most likely to make a quick trip to the store to purchase items they had an urgent need for, but those product categories vary widely. Across all outlets, 59 percent of fertilizer and weed killer sales occurred during quick trip missions because those products aren't used on a regular basis. Similarly, cold and allergy tablets have a high likelihood of being purchased during a quick trip mission. At dollar stores, 54 percent of cold/allergy/sinus tablet sales took place during quick trip missions, compared with 47 percent at drug stores and 38 percent at all outlets. Meantime, 67 percent of spirits and liquor sales were made during quick trip missions to drug stores, compared with 38 percent that occurred during quick trips to dollar stores, SymphonyIRI reports.


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