10 Trends in Shopper Behaviour

We have recently released a Trends Report highlighting 10 Trends in Shopper Behaviour. This is based on recent research we have done for a number of clients, both retailers and food & drink manufacturers. We are so lucky to work with a broad range of clients in different sectors. It is this experience that we are sharing with you now in our 10 Trends In Shopper Behaviour report.




Savviness looks like it is here to stay. Spawned from the “Recession Years” where endless bad financial news in the media changed our behaviour, it looks like that behaviour has been irrevocably changed. A study using an online community that our Director of Tech Research, Ian Ralph, did with savvy shoppers told us that those who are being savvy with their shoppers are proud of how clever they are. They make the time for shopping around and they certainly don’t rush into purchase decisions. It’s somewhat at odds with the message we get that everyone is in a hurry and has no time. When it comes to money, we make time.




Younger people are now having to live at home for longer, and tend to have more debt than the generation before them. They are extremely savvy. They are also able to access a myriad of information and customer reviews at their fingertips, and this is what they expect when it comes to shopping. Gen Z are far less loyal to single brands, but prefer to have a choice of preferred brands which offer them benefits rather than ‘image’.




It is no surprise that the increase in shoppers prepared to shop online for goods has ultimately changed the shopper experience in-store. We’ve seen that online shopping has increased in the last four years (46% had done grocery shopping online 2011, rising to 54% in 2015). As a result, our physical and emotional relationship with stores (and some categories) is altering.  For example, a piece of work we did for a major cider brand was to understand the differences in shopper needs online and in-store. We did in-home qual accompanied surfs to understand cider consumption and purchasing, and a quant online study to size the market for online cider purchasing. Our research helped the client to identify the drivers and barriers to online cider buying, and revealed some very different issues to the tried and tested in-store shopper marketing.




Changes in the way we shop are causing a blurring of shopper missions. This is partly down to the rise in online shopping. The frequency of visiting physical stores is going down. Focusing on main and top-up shopping missions is not always appropriate. You must understand your category, how your shoppers and shopping and what their needs are in-store and online. A large piece of research Danni and the Retail Team did for Tesco, delivering a customer experience program to over 950 Tesco stores, showed us how shopping missions have changed over the years.




Our Head of Packaging Chris Peach will be pleased with this statement. When it comes to in-store navigation, you can’t beat a good bit of packaging to steer customers your way. With so much noise, in-store signage and POS can often get lost. Shoppers use big, well known brands to navigate the store and find the category in the aisle. We know that in a standard 30 minute shopping trip where they buy 40 products, shoppers will have been exposed to 40,000 product lines, and could reject 20 products every second. It is critical to develop better packaging to help drive your brand.




When it comes to RANGE, less can be more. Range Rationalisation has become and area of interest for many retailers. RoS data can be used to reduce the range, but it does have limitation. Our Range Analysis technique that our clever stats team, led by Jo Franklin, overcomes these limitations.  For example, a piece of research we did for a drink client, allowed us to understand the contribution of different SKUs to the drinks range, and help feed into range rationalisation talks with retailers. We identified some high overlap between flavours and sugar contents. As a results, we identified that only 9 SKUs were actually contributing to the range, and the remainder, therefore, had the potential to be delisted.




Even though a consumer made spend a long time browsing your fixture, it doesn’t necessarily mean the shopper is engaged. The time spent at a fixture varies immensely by the category, as many of our studies have shown.  For example, store cupboard ingredients that are always in a customer’s cupboard may not be purchased in their chosen SKU is out of stock. Some categories are more engaging than others. E.g. Pasta is a category that has low involvement and a limited range. Jarred Sauces have a large range, lots of promotions, and a high involvement from Customers. Batteries is one where the fixture is small, but customers are confused by lots of offers. You can quickly see how every category is different. We work with brands to design ideal planograms based on real consumer research. For example, we works with a cooking sauce brand to provide a clear definition and structure for their category for them to take to retailers.




It is extremely well known that in retail, it’s all about Eye Level. However, in the hotly contested struggle to achieve eye-level status in supermarkets, it’s worth remembering that there are other opportunities if eye level is not possible. We see a recurring theme that ‘just below eye level’ and ‘to the right’ are also areas that increase noticeability. For some brands, being in a hotspot is not an issue, some SKUs with high loyalty will be sought out.




We did a study with The Grocer to understand how little impact POS has on shoppers. We used eye-tracking to reveal that while all of our shoppers looked at at least one piece of POS, very few could remember ANY details. With so much noise in store, it appears that shoppers have become immune. Brands and retailers therefore need to rethink their strategies to make POS more memorable. But how can they do that ?

Remember less is more and use one message per aisle.

Don’t be shy, use large images and few words

Make it instant – shoppers should be able to understand immediately

Try and aim for eye level POS

Consistency of colours, fonts and images

Use Queues to your advantage




Understand the way decisions are made. The shopper and end consumer are not always the same person. It’s therefore important to understand who is the decision maker and what needs are to be satisfied. Not all decisions are actually made in-store, understand which decisions have already been decided upon and which can be influenced in-store is important when laying out the fixture and designing the POS.

Understanding your shopper is a big task – you need to understand the way they think at home, the way they act in the retail environment, the way they make decisions, the role of online and other channel. Once you understand this, we can help you to drive decision making in your favour through the best marketing, comms, packaging, planograms and product.

Come and have a chat with us, and discuss your category and your dreams for your product!

If you enjoyed reading this blog, download our free report with more content and case studies here

10 shopper trends

Sign up to our latest blogs and newsletters

Deborah Hall
01962 842211
Article date - 09/06/2016
View all articles by this author

Let us know your thoughts


twitter in facebook google youtube

Welcome to Walnut Unlimited: The human understanding agency.

Marketing Sciences Unlimited has evolved into Walnut Unlimited: The human understanding agency. At the heart of our proposition is a single concept – human understanding –underpinned with no-nonsense science to generate purposeful insights.

We want to help you better connect with your customers and believe these human insights deliver brand growth.

Created by bringing together all four of the Unlimited Group’s insight agencies: ICM Unlimited, ICM Direct, Marketing Sciences Unlimited and Walnut Unlimited we will deliver a new offer which is greater than the sum of its individual parts.

To read more about Walnut Unlimited click the button below, but to continue to read this page please close this pop-up.