Old Shopping Trip Rules No Longer Apply

Jul 25, 2003
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Jim Hertel of Willard Bishop Consulting writes in the July 2003 Competitive Edge, “the old paradigm of stock-up, routine, fill-in shopping trips made to supermarkets doesn’t really apply anymore.” 

Instead, Mr. Hertel suggests consumers load up on a short list of products they prefer to buy at one store (paper products in clubs for example) and then go to a different store to purchase another set of items.

Supermarkets are rarely at the top of consumers’ purchasing decision hierarchy, with the exception of a few items, and sales have suffered as a result.

Consumers make the decision at which stores to shop based on several criteria.

Individual categories drive store selection such as paper items bought in bulk in club stores.

Signature products drive consumer traffic. Mr.Hertel included private label items found in specialty grocers such as Trader Joe’s or organics in stores such as Whole Foods. Supermarkets, writes Mr. Hertel, suffer from a serious lack of signature products that attract consumers.

Supermarkets can capture a greater share of stock-up expenditures if they develop the means to differentiate from the competition. Mr. Hertel suggests:

  • Stores should focus on core strengths they can own such as perishables, location and/or service

  • Delivering signature items that create consumer buzz

  • Pay greater attention and devote resources to develop a more thorough understanding of consumers.

Moderator’s Comment: Why do supermarkets (seemingly)
have such a difficult time differentiating themselves from each other and competitors
in other formats?

Speak to almost any grocery executive and they will tell
you exactly what needs to be done for them to achieve a point of true difference
with their competitors. Why then, do so few appear able to achieve their stated
Anderson – Moderator

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