When Consumers Want to Stock up and Get Out: Integrated Insights Capture High-Value Shoppers on the Fly

By Eric Lang, IRI


We are now a few months into the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. and it seems that panic buying has evolved slightly. Today, shoppers want to “load up and get out.” For CPG suppliers and retailers navigating the constant evolution of consumer shopping behaviors during this unprecedented pandemic, the importance of daily data cannot be overstated.

Historically, the pantry stocking trip mission has accounted for about 15% of trips and 45% of dollars. But now we’ve got pantry stocking on steroids! Across major grocery retailers, the trends have been phenomenal. Though trip frequency is generally falling, dollar and unit sales have skyrocketed.

Source: IRI Retail Collaborative Gateways, week ending 4/13/2020 versus same period prior year.

The bottom-line impacts of these shifts are striking. In one of the above examples, buyers spent an average of $86.10 during the first week of April 2019. This year, average spend for the same week reached $116.92. Unfortunately, buyer trends – number of buyers – are also trending down, which can very quickly offset basket gains.

Source: IRI Retail Collaborative Gateways, week ending 4/13/2020 versus same period prior year.

Within this retail banner, the top-performing categories play well to the stock-up nature of the journey, including smoked meats, frozen appetizers and snack rolls, pasta sauce and a variety of canned goods. But what about the buyers within these categories? Can we understand more about what is motivating purchase decisions? Yes, we can, and investing the time to do so really pays off.

It’s All About the Shopper

Now, more than ever, understanding buyers at a granular level is essential. IRI’s frequent shopper program data provides timely visibility into shopper trends across high-value shoppers, including:

  • Is the category/brand losing or adding buyers? Is that on trend with retailer/competitor shoppers?
  • Are buyers increasing/decreasing spending on the category/brand?
  • How are buyers’ purchase sizes changing?

With this type of insight, retailers and their supplier partners can work together to develop and execute strategies that will excite and engage key shoppers, upping the odds of establishing and protecting loyalty throughout and long after the pandemic has subsided.

IRI research has shown that a 10% improvement in share of wallet among high-value customers could increase a firm’s market capitalization by an average of 12%, as the market rewards greater profitability and cash flow.

By understanding buyers at a granular level, manufacturers and retailers can:

  • Understand how the pandemic is impacting consumers’ trip and purchase patterns to anticipate and proactively adjust assortment and supporting marketing strategies to keep the right products on the shelf at the right time, with the right messaging and pricing.
  • Closely study basket affinities to develop cross-merchandising and cross-promotion programs that make it quick and affordable for consumers to stock up on what they need and get out of the store as quickly as possible.

And the best part: having data in near real-time gives retailers and suppliers visibility into trends as they unfold, allowing for on-the-fly adjustments that will reap optimal results for customers and marketers alike.

Looking to keep pace with the frenetic market so that you can zero in on your highest-value shoppers? Access the IRI COVID-19 Data Dashboard for daily data including category trends, out-of-stock levels, consumer behavior and more.









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