Supermarket shopping isn’t what it was. The global pandemic has forced more missions online. The onus is now on the bricks and mortar estate to raise its game and hold on to share in a new era of the omnichannel shopper.
When online seems the only (or most suitable) option
The surge in digital shopping has been one of the most notable changes in 2020. Frequency of visits to bricks and mortar stores has shrunk massively as coronavirus makes browsing the aisles somewhat fraught. Indeed, brand leaders have been able to cash in on shoppers running on a grab-and-go mindset.
Whilst the shift online is well documented, the predominant narrative that is likely to emerge is one of the omnichannel shopper – recognising that people, including fickle Generation Z, still want to get up close and personal with everyday product choices.
With this in mind, with the help of Andrew Wardlaw, our Chief Ideas Officer at MMR Research, we explored, some of the ways in which brick and mortar stores can leverage this new era – playing to their strengths, which ultimately centres on superior sensory shopping experiences.
Bringing back browsing
Whilst sales have been buoyant across physical and digital estates, much of grocery retailers’ success can be attributed to the collapse of out of home consumption.
We believe this success masks a huge loss of impulse sales – in store and online.
So, as shoppers settle into the new supermarket drill, we think now is the time for retailers to nurture more of the browsing behaviour that has taken such a hammering. Browsing that ultimately delivers more unplanned (impulse) sales.
In fact, without such a focus, it’s impossible to see how retailers will come anywhere close to matching this year’s sales momentum.
Deconstructing the aisle to gain better engagement
One way to slow the shopper down and encourage impulsive behaviour is to make fixtures more engaging. MMR’s sensory capability now include trained sensory panellists who are being brought in by category leaders to evaluate the in-store shopping experience.
The panellists have the ability to break down the shopper journey into micro-moments. They identify pain points as well as potential peak moments that enhance the experience – all of which is now informing the development of better planograms that are not just efficient but also more engaging.
In one case, panellists were able to objectively report high levels of clutter and what the drivers of this clutter were. This information proved invaluable to a client who wanted to increase shopper engagement and promote greater incidence of browsing, and the potential prize that this mode of shopping behaviour can bring.
The insight generated was that people tend to engage more with fixtures that appear really well thought out.
Unlocking unplanned sales
Recent research in the U.S has found that half of all in-store shoppers had recently bought some of their groceries online – rising to two-thirds of Generation Z.
The fact is, supermarkets and grocery brands need to think how they play up the role of products and innovation in physical environments. Make supermarkets matter more for discovering and trialling new products.
Some ideas for consideration include:
• Showcasing new products by creating innovation spots that are permanently etched onto planograms.
• Promoting innovative food and beverage pairings. Sensory science has some pretty whacky ideas here that can drive category appeal with experience-deprived audiences.
• Culinary promotions that help shoppers try something new – and stave off the impending threat from operators like Gousto and Hello Fresh.
• Themed bays (like Gut Health below) that group products together around emerging consumer needs. Mood-based themes such as ‘Relaxation’ and ‘Sleep’ are obvious candidates and have the potential to generate high levels of impulse purchases.
It’s about experiences
Before this pandemic, we were seeing the rise of the experience economy, and despite a rocky 2020, this will carry on regardless. So, what if brands and retailers could unlock this dynamic for experience-starved shoppers on their weekly shop?
And this opportunity doesn’t just exist in the bricks and mortar estate. There is so much more that can be done to increase impulse behaviour online, in ways that make up for some of the sensory triggers of desire that are lost vs. an in-store scenario. But we’ll take a closer look at that in our next article.
Contact us to find out more…
If you would like to discuss any of the insights covered in the report or talk to us about how they can be used to help your brand navigate the new normal, contact us on the details below.