Different Strokes for Different Folks: Shopper Preferences Differ By Group, Brand and Store

Different Strokes for Different Folks: Shopper Preferences Differ By Group, Brand and Store

A shopper in need is a friend of retailers indeed, but what needs and which retailers? Consumers’ everyday needs differ greatly–and so do their shopping habits. To accurately affect the behavior of the U.S.’ diverse shoppers, marketers need to understand distinct preferences by demographic, category and retail channel. The new Nielsen Category Shopping Fundamentals study explores the varied mindsets of today’s U.S. shoppers when it comes to making purchases for their everyday needs. This comprehensive research leverages over 50,000 purchases across 100 fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) categories to provide a complete overview of the shopper’s path to purchase.

Whose “Shopportunity”?

The FMCG landscape is dynamic and constantly evolving, and retailers and manufacturers in this market must understand who their shoppers are today and what makes them tick in order to maximize their marketing dollars. Marketing strategies aimed at traditional shoppers and shopping patterns will not bear fruit with today’s primary shopper and their style of interaction with FMCG purchases.

Meeting Men’s Needs

While women traditionally represent the primary grocery shopper for the household, men’s role in household shopping continues to expand. This growth, coupled with the unique behavior of male shoppers, requires marketers to better focus their efforts to reach this demographic. Men tend to shop functionally, planning purchases to replenish needs. Instead of focusing on traditional pre-store promotions and coupons, which are effective with female shoppers, marketers should instead concentrate on messages with male shoppers in mind to remind him to replenish his supply. The gender divide also plays out in-store, where men tend to be more engaged with shopper marketing intended to inform or attract purchases.

An Age Divided


With promotional delivery methods evolving through online and mobile sources, the days of traditional coupon clipping may be long gone and with them, their traditional audience. Today’s coupon users are young and engaged, with millennials surpassing boomers in coupon and promotional engagement by 1.6 times. At the same time, opportunities are plentiful to encourage more impulse purchases among millennials, who are open to new products and experiences. Conversely, boomers’ more entrenched, habitual behavior requires a subtler strategy. In order to attract these habitual shoppers, strategies around delivering a seamless shopping experience to help boomers find their products with ease may help garner their engagement.

A Look at Hispanic Shoppers’ Baskets

Demonstrating dynamic shopping behaviors both pre-store and in-store that vary between FMCG categories, the growing population of Hispanics in the U.S. requires nuanced marketing efforts because a “one-shoe-fits-all” approach will not fit this shopper. While Hispanic consumers show greater price sensitivity in some departments, in others they may be tempted by merchandising efforts. Marketers require a detailed understanding of this particular group to more effectively manage their campaigns and attract this growing population of shoppers.

Product Preferences


Just as shopper behavior differs by demographic, the way in which shoppers engage in category purchases differs by branding. U.S. shoppers tend to do less price checking in-store and more coupon consideration pre-store when purchasing branded products, likely due to the value associated with the brand itself and entrenched, habitual behavior. Meanwhile, shoppers are 40% more likely to price check when purchasing private label, which suggests that price optimization is critical for these offerings.

Off to Which  Store?

Different retail channels satisfy different shopper needs from habitual restocking to browsing missions. Both shopping styles present unique engagement opportunities for retailers across FMCG channels. For example, shoppers have learned to seek promotions in the grocery channel, and as a result, promotions in key basket building categories (such as Snacks, Frozen, and Health & Personal Care) can increase trip spending. Conversely, many mass merchandisers have succeeded in positioning themselves as a destination for Health & Personal Care, but the channel’s potential role as a destination for food purchases offers opportunities for development. However, retailers need to defensively continue to deliver on their core competencies while simultaneously looking outside of their four walls to competitive activity as channel formats continue to blur.

Execute a Winning Strategy

In today’s dynamic landscape, retailers and manufacturers alike must develop shopper strategies as nuanced as the shoppers’ themselves. While promotions and merchandising can be pivotal in influencing some purchases, these efforts will have a limited impact on others. Marketing efforts tailored to a shopper group’s natural behavior both pre-store and in-store can result in both cost savings and greater returns on shopper marketing programs.

About the Nielsen Category Shopping Fundamentals Survey

Nielsen’s Category Shopping Fundamentals is a survey-based research program fielded on the National Consumer Panel. The research, fielded in May 2013 to over 18,000 respondents, features purchases across 10 food and non-food FMCG departments, composed of 96 categories. For questions regarding this research, please contact:

Manufacturing: Phil Fox
Retail: Liz Novy