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Retailers Need to Court ‘Superconsumers’


How well do you know your shoppers?

Most, if not all, food retailers probably ponder this question when analyzing opportunities to grow sales in their stores, especially in their fresh departments. Regardless of the product — be it food or nonfood — all retail businesses attract consumers with different shopping habits and preferences. Some are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the foods they shop for, while others view it as simply as a necessity to keep their pantries and refrigerators stocked for meal preparation.

And as food retailers, it’s important to understand the purpose of all of our customers’ store visits, especially those who are passionate and heavy users of specific products.

IDDBA focused on one particular group of consumers in its latest research report, "The Superconsumer Opportunity in Dairy, Deli and Bakery." These “superconsumers” are not casually shopping stores for stock-up items. Rather, they’re seeking products that improve their lives, whether it’s from a taste, flavor, health-and-wellness, lifestyle or other perspective. These shoppers over-index in volume, sales and profits in our fresh departments. And while they represent only 10 percent of all shoppers, they drive as much as 25 percent of sales.

Through our research, we’ve identified key characteristics that make them stand out among other shoppers:

  • They eagerly look for new products
  • They happily pay price premiums
  • They shop the category frequently
  • They have above-average category knowledge
  • They are more open to marketing messages
  • They can articulate and anticipate latent demand

So how does this translate into engaging these individuals and growing sales at your stores?

Let’s take a look at a real-life example of a cheese superconsumer and his eating habits.

According to the research, cheese superconsumers represent 10 percent of households and drive 23 percent of total cheese spend. They spend 2.3 times more than what we call “potential superconsumers” (those shoppers who really like cheese, but spend less than a cheese superconsumer), buy from 10 subcategories, and shop an average of four different stores.

One such superconsumer is a grad student we’ll call “Eric.”  He’s on a budget, and his go-to dinner choice is pizza. He typically must choose between carry-out — a more expensive option — and frozen pizza, which sometimes doesn’t have enough cheese for his liking.

So what does Eric do?  He buys specialty cheeses from the deli department to add to the store-bought frozen pizza. By simply adding this topping to the frozen pizza, he’s elevating and customizing his experience. As a shopper, he’s saving money. And as a retailer, your store is boosting its sales of specialty cheese.

Cheese isn’t the only category that attracts superconsumers. IDDBA’s research also examined their shopping patterns in the bakery, deli and dairy categories. Having an understanding of superconsumer behavior not only enables retailers to identify these consumers and develop effective marketing messages, but also to engage potential superconsumers on product information, meal ideas, and greater and more creative usage of the foods they enjoy.

Let’s look at an example of a bakery superconsumer to learn how.

“John” is a bakery superconsumer, and he turns to the in-store bakery to elevate his meals. While he enjoys cooking for his family, there are times when he’s running late and must prepare something quick. In these instance, John makes sandwiches for his family, but not just any sandwiches. John buys croissants from the in-store bakery and toasts them, which keeps his family happy and his values intact. John's not only preparing a meal that feels homemade, but he’s also saving money by not purchasing dinner at a quick-serve restaurant.

With this example in mind, let’s look at potential bakery superconsumers. These individuals spend less on bread and baked goods than bakery superconsumers ($143 compared with $357). By teaching these shoppers that it’s okay to serve their families sandwiches for dinner — using special bread from the in-store bakery — stores can significantly increase their department sales. Even a $30 annual consumer spend increase could boost bakery sales by 14 percent, or $1.4 billion. 

Knowing the mindset of shoppers is vital for retailer success. And by examining the purchasing behavior of superconsumers in our fresh departments, stores can create numerous opportunities to promote their perimeter products, grow sales and build a loyal shopper base.

How to Get the Report ...

IDDBA has released "Superconsumer Phase 1: Setting the Stage," research that details the importance of these profitable and insightful consumers for retailers and manufacturers. The association commissioned The Cambridge Group to begin exploring superconsumer opportunities in bakery, cheese, dairy and deli, and worked closely with Eddie Yoon, author of "Superconsumers: A Simple, Speedy and Sustainable Path to Superior Growth."

The reports are available exclusively to IDDBA members online. Non-members may download one-page research briefs that provide easily digestible results from the project:

"Bakery Superconsumers Phase 1: Setting the Stage"

"Cheese Superconsumers Phase 1: Setting the Stage"

"Dairy Superconsumers Phase 1: Setting the Stage"

"Deli Superconsumers Phase 1: Setting the Stage"

IDDBA is a nonprofit membership organization serving the dairy, deli, bakery, cheese and supermarket foodservice industries. 



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