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Wrigley, Mars Tap into Shopper Needs to Drive Impulse Sales

By Kurt Laufer, VP US Sales and Operations, Wrigley

It’s no secret that people don’t grocery shop like they used to. Historically, shoppers only paid at a front-end checkout lane but today the places money is exchanged, or “transaction zones,” can be found all over stores and online. This evolution in how people shop and pay has created a need for fresh thinking around how to drive sales of the impulse items that have been synonymous with the cash register line for decades.

To better understand what influences these purchases, Wrigley and Mars Chocolate recently conducted extensive global research revealing several impulse-motivating needs that shoppers have during check out. These insights are guiding new merchandising recommendations across transaction zones, whether that’s the traditional front end, self-checkout or an exchange experience like click-and-collect that requires both the shopper and associate to complete.

Shopper Needs and Behaviors Drive Impulse Purchase

For all that’s changed, one thing is undeniably clear: Checkout remains the emotional low point of the shopping trip and satisfying shopper needs during this time with smart merchandising will drive purchase.

Not everyone’s mindset is the same when checking out. We found three primary need states:

  • Refresh: Many shoppers are looking to refresh after a shopping trip and seek items like gum, snacks (including better for you choices), and beverages.
  • Reward: People view shopping as a chore and want to reward themselves with items like chocolate and non-chocolate candy.
  • Remind: Some view the transaction zone as a place to pick up items they’ve forgotten to grab elsewhere, like lip balm, phone chargers and batteries.

Awareness of these mindsets presents a great opportunity for retailers to connect with shoppers. While we assumed the prevalence of smartphones might be an obstacle to do so in-store, what we found through an extensive queuing research study in late 2015 was quite different. Only 16 percent of shoppers with a smartphone use it while waiting to check out. Furthermore, 60 percent of shoppers do not mind standing in line, recognizing there are benefits to doing so when the appropriate displays and products are available. So there’s a real opportunity to grab shoppers attention if you establish the right product mix and space allocation that can satisfy their Refresh, Reward, Remind needs.

Wrigley and Mars Chocolate’s Transaction Zone Vision

Based on the findings of our research, Wrigley and Mars Chocolate expanded on previous merchandising recommendations to provide customized solutions by channel that meet both shopper and retailer-specific needs across transaction zones, not just the front end. Our recommendations consider additional variables that drive impulse purchase; these variables include macro trends such as growing desire for better-for-you products, along with category size and growth to help our partners maximize conversion across impulse categories.    

For example, gum and mints, which satisfy the “Refresh” need, have shown positive growth and increase total front-end sales, especially when placed nearest to the point of transaction due to their high impulsivity and low decision time. Similarly, confections and non-chocolate confections are highly impulsive with low decision time among those looking to “Reward.” Although magazines still play a role in the “Reward” need state, they continue to decline by double digits and should be right-sized and placed further away from the register based on their longer dwell time. 

Looking Beyond the Front End

The retail landscape and shopper behavior will continue to change, but our Transaction Zone Vision allows us to collaborate with retailers and industry partners to adapt accordingly and create innovative solutions that help grow sales of impulse items. This includes rethinking the still-critical front end plus other transaction zones, like the oft-overlooked self-checkout which tends to lack merchandising altogether, and looking ahead to online and other newer transaction zones.

While every store environment is different, prioritizing shopper needs can capture more impulse sales wherever that transaction is happening, inside or outside of the store. 

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