Motivation is key for retailers

Research shows that a close understanding of consumer motivation pays disproportionate dividends when building market share. Allan Breese is client service director at Taylor Nelson AGB

It is a truism that where we shop has a great influence on the way we shop. For example, a household that chooses a retailer such as Tesco or Asda (a multiple whose estate comprises mainly larger stores on the edge or out of town) will make larger but fewer shopping trips with total expenditure being higher than average.

This shopping behaviour is due to many factors, including the desire for convenience (fewer and hence larger shopping trips), the availability of parking and the wide range of product lines available in these bigger stores.

By contrast, retailers which predominately operate smaller stores in the high street (for example, Kwik Save and Somerfield) attract consumers who make smaller but more regular shopping trips.

These consumers are more likely to have travelled to the stores of their choice on foot or by bus, and to have to manage their cashflow carefully.

However, this is not the whole picture. For example, is the Kwik Save shopper also making small shopping trips to other high street retailers, or making larger trips to superstores and using Kwik Save only to top up? The answer can be provided by segmenting consumers based on their shopping behaviour in the market. In this example all panel members on Superpanel’s Till Roll Share of Trade measurement have been allocated to one of four segments based on their total expenditure in 11 grocery outlets (higher or lower than 390) and by their frequency of shopping (less or more than 20 trips) over a 12-week period.

The retailer shares in each of these four segments, along with the total market performance, are shown in the main table, which clearly highlights just how variable the position is even on this simple four-way segmentation.

The retailers (Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda) which operate mainly superstores (25,000 sq ft and over) enjoy the highest shares in the less frequent and higher spend group – households that make fewer, but on average, larger shopping trips. This segment spends very little on top-up trips in the high street multiples.

By contrast, the high street multiples, led by Somerfield, Kwik Save and the Co-op, experience their greatest shares among the group that shops regularly but with lower spend – that is, they make lots of small trips. This seems to indicate that there is a group of consumers who shop regularly and visit different outlets regularly, dependant upon their immediate needs.

Safeway is the odd one out – its highest share is in the group that shops less frequently and spends less; it would appear that Safeway is attracting the less frequent, convenience-oriented consumer but cannot attract the “big-trip” spenders who prefer the superstores.

From the retailer’s perspective, key factors are not just understanding what motivates shoppers to visit their stores (although this is critical in understanding and targeting their most important consumers) but also the dynamics of the market trends.

Currently the trend is for consumers to shop more frequently and spend more. And it is vital for retailers to exploit this trend better if they are to build their share of the market.

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