Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Business

Survey: Supermarket shoppers buy only a fraction of what's on the shelves

When it comes to grocery shopping — as with most mundane activities — we're creatures of habit. Week after week, we stick to the same items, same brands, same flavors. We might go rogue and buy pickled artichokes for a new recipe, but otherwise, we fall back on the tried and true. If my cart doesn't have Life cereal, Silk soy milk and Kraft macaroni and cheese, it's only because I have plenty at home.

A new survey by Catalina, a St. Petersburg digital marketing company that works with grocers and other retailers, confirms that most of us are that boring. Its study found that shoppers buy less than 1 percent of products in grocery stores over a year's time. People ignore 99.3 percent of what's on the shelf and, on average, buy only 260 different products in a year.

Rather than dull, Catalina calls us "selective.''

"When we go into a grocery store, we are on a mission to get in and get out as fast as possible,'' said John Caron, vice president of marketing for Catalina. "We have blinders on. Most people walk in to get what they want and leave.''

The yearlong study, which tracked the buying habits of 32 million shoppers at 9,968 U.S. grocery stores, also found that no two shopping carts were entirely alike. Two customers might have bought the same items — potato chips, laundry detergent and peanut butter — but never in identical brands, sizes and varieties, which isn't a wild stretch, given that the average store had more than 35,000 products.

At a time when consumers demand more choices than ever, Catalina's research supports the notion that supermarkets need to create personalized shopping experiences and connect with customers on an individual basis. Traditional, one-size-fits-all methods aren't enough, Caron said, citing other stats about weekly circulars in the survey, Engaging the Selective Shopper. A look at a major grocer's circular found that two-thirds of all carts didn't include a single item among the 1,172 advertised that week.

To reach the selective shopper, Catalina is touting its new mobile app that sends coupons to shoppers' smartphones based on their past purchases and their location in the store, as traced through Wi-Fi. Buy a lot of pet products and you might get a coupon for Purina. Walk down the cereal aisle and you might get a coupon for a new flavor of Mini-Wheats.

The app, which shoppers open when they get into a participating store, also allows for mobile checkout. Customers scan each product's bar code to add to their cart. To skip the regular checkout line, they finalize the sale at a mobile kiosk.

The app is up and running at about 400 locations of Ahold's Stop & Shop and Giant stores, but so far, it isn't available locally. Catalina, which Reuters recently reported may be up for sale for $2.5 billion, said tests showed that shoppers who used the app spent 6 to 8 percent more than other shoppers. The average customer saved $250 to $300 a year.

Particularly attractive to retailers is that stores can decide who gets the offers, as compared with weekly circulars that are available to everyone. For instance, a customer who buys a case of Diet Coke every week may need only a reminder — not a coupon — because she'll buy it anyway at full price. Instead, stores might target a shopper who likes soft drinks but doesn't regularly buy Coke.

"The big problem with circulars is that they treat all the customers the same,'' Caron said. "They end up subsidizing purchases.''

Of course, getting customers accustomed to the mobile app takes time, and only a limited number opt in. Catalina doesn't expect it will replace coupon clipping any time soon, but it will appeal to tech-savvy shoppers who want the best deals.

"The type of customer who gravitates toward this is a store's top customer,'' Caron said. "They are high spenders and highly loyal — the ones you want to keep in your franchise. There's a learning curve to it, but once people start using it, they see the incremental savings.''

I can't see the app winning over big bargain hunters — I'll always refuse to buy Life cereal at full price, no matter how much I like it — but I do see it as a good way to introduce shoppers to the many products we haven't tried.

Susan Thurston can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 225-3110. Follow @susan_thurston on Twitter.

Comments
Pinellas County Commission shows support for CrossBay Ferry

Pinellas County Commission shows support for CrossBay Ferry

CLEARWATER –– The ferry that once linked St. Petersburg and Tampa downtowns took one step closer to returning in November.While the Pinellas County Commission didn’t approve spending money to help pay for the CrossBay Ferry during a meeting Tuesday, ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Louisiana shipbuilder hopes to bring 1,000 jobs to Tampa shipyard through Coast Guard icebreaker program

Louisiana shipbuilder hopes to bring 1,000 jobs to Tampa shipyard through Coast Guard icebreaker program

TAMPA — Tampa Ship could welcome more than 1,000 new shipbuilding jobs if Louisiana-based Bollinger Shipyards wins a major contract to build up to six Coast Guard polar icebreakers.Bollinger could start staffing up at Tampa Ship, which has 62 acres a...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Robert Traurig, who helped build one of the world’s largest law firms, dies at 93

Robert Traurig, who helped build one of the world’s largest law firms, dies at 93

Robert Traurig helped build one of the largest law firms in the world and, in so doing, swept Miami-Dade County upward.Brickell Avenue skyscrapers. Open-air malls like Cocowalk in Coconut Grove. Residential communities on the edge of the Everglades. ...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Hard Rock announces new hotel in Ireland in 2020

Hard Rock announces new hotel in Ireland in 2020

Hard Rock International is expanding across the pond. The Seminole Tribe-owned casino and hotel chain announced Tuesday that it will open a Hard Rock Hotel Dublin in 2020, its first hotel in Ireland. It will partner with Irish hotel company Tifco Lim...
Published: 07/17/18
New Spring Hill funeral home offers dining, catering services for grieving families

New Spring Hill funeral home offers dining, catering services for grieving families

SPRING HILL — A new funeral home, in response to changing mores, is focused on serving the living, providing homelike conviviality and social amenities that reach beyond attention to death.Yvette and Jim Klausch, licensed funeral directors with 40 ye...
Published: 07/17/18
Want to live on Beeswax Lane? Tampa Bay developers strain to create new street names

Want to live on Beeswax Lane? Tampa Bay developers strain to create new street names

When Newland Communities began developing FishHawk Ranch in Hillsborough County two decades ago, naming streets wasn’t much of a problem."Literally, we would get out our list of Florida native bird names every time a new section came online," said Pa...
Published: 07/17/18
Florida nursing homes have enough staff, numbers show. But the state has shortages in other areas.

Florida nursing homes have enough staff, numbers show. But the state has shortages in other areas.

In most places across America, nursing homes are facing an acute shortage of workers to take care of the country’s growing population of aging and disabled patients. But not in Florida. A Kaiser Family Foundation report published this month found tha...
Published: 07/17/18
Blacks can afford far fewer rentals than Asians and whites, study shows

Blacks can afford far fewer rentals than Asians and whites, study shows

Black and Latino residents of the Tampa Bay area can afford far fewer rentals than Asians and whites can. According to Zillow, blacks can afford just 19 percent of available rentals and Latinos 20.7 percent. That compares to whites being able to affo...
Published: 07/17/18
Tampa Bay business: This is what Prime Day is like as an Amazon seller

Tampa Bay business: This is what Prime Day is like as an Amazon seller

Amazon doesn’t even give its sellers a headsup on which July day the mega online retailer is selecting for its biggest sale of the year, Prime Day. But out of her natural sponges workshop in Tarpon Springs, Theo Prodromitis knew to start getti...
Published: 07/17/18
Another hip hotel in St. Pete? Uptown residents like the idea, but fret about parking.

Another hip hotel in St. Pete? Uptown residents like the idea, but fret about parking.

ST. PETERSBURG — In the past few years, Michael Andoniades has turned two faded hotels — the Hollander and the Avalon — into two of St. Petersburg’s trendiest, most popular lodgings. So it is with mixed feelings that residents of the city’s Historic ...
Published: 07/17/18