HIM Think Tank

Digital ordering

Posted by: HIM Wed, 12 Dec 2018

The use of online ordering by retailers as the primary route to market has grown by more than 350% in the past eight years, with 26% of retailers using online as the main method to place their order in 2008 and 98% in 2018. Despite this huge shift, the B2B online space is still far behind that of B2C online space in terms of insight and advice on how to best optimise the websites, writes HIM’s Chloe Kent. That being said, some suppliers see 10+ times more value pass through the online B2B channel versus online grocery/pure play, meaning there is a massive opportunity for suppliers to unlock significant revenue gains if they get their strategy right.

With only 20% of retailers visiting wholesalers’ websites to just place an order, retailers are using websites for alternative reasons. For example, 72% are visiting wholesalers’ websites to check prices and 34% to see what products are available. As a result online provides a massive opportunity for suppliers to be engaging with and influencing retailers’ shopper decisions.

However, the biggest frustrations to retailers apart from availability are that it is hard to find items and the websites are too complex to use. Therefore, optimising these areas provides an opportunity for both supplier and wholesaler.

As well as the fact retailers are moving to online, they are also using multiple platforms to place orders, with some using websites on desktop, tablet and phone, while others choose to use wholesaler apps. As a result it is becoming crucial to understand not only how to optimise online, but to understand the differences in how retailers shop these different platforms, and the result should be reflected in suppliers’ B2B e-commerce strategies.

A B2B e-commerce strategy that fits into every food and grocery business does not exist. There are key areas for wholesalers and suppliers to focus on, but the end result is very much dependent on the behaviour of retailers. With demand for convenience growing and information widely accessible across a range of different platforms, it is vital that suppliers embrace and invest in B2B e-commerce and are knowledgeable as to the key guiding principles.

Beyond price

Posted by: HIM Mon, 19 Nov 2018

With Tesco opening multiple Jack’s discount stores, the attention and conversation around the discounter channel is more apparent than ever. The interest around the channel is not without reasoning as we have seen penetration into Aldi and Lidl rise from 49% to 59% within the past two years (HIM), writes HIM’s Alice Dolling.

What is driving this flurry of shoppers to the channel? Price and value for money are incredibly important, however, as identified in HIM’s Future of Convenience, the rise of the ‘experience economy’ is one of the most important global trends for 2018.

This reflects in the figures; Aldi and Lidl shoppers are both rating the importance of ease of shop, store appearance, speed of service and quality of staff all above a seven out of 10, where 10 is very important. So while price and money are the most important factors, the experience cannot be ignored.

HIM recently made a trip to Jack’s and what we found was a step beyond the price tag. Of course, pricing POS was extremely clear and there was a high quality range of own label, but there was also a strong and obvious focus on making the experience positive for the shopper. Perhaps this is where Jack’s hopes to excel against the long established Aldi and Lidl brands.

Technology played a role as the store not only offered free wi-fi to shoppers, it also had a ‘scan as you shop’ app. Apps such as these make way for employing staff for different reasons, and with more activity at self-checkouts there is an opportunity for more staff on the shop floor as opposed to on the tills. There were multiple members on the floor and staff were friendly, interactive and knowledgeable about products.

What’s more, they haven’t forgotten the basics when it comes to in-store experience – we know that the main shop mission is the most prominent in the discounter channel, and therefore the wide aisles facilitate ease of shop as shoppers can easily pass each other with a trolley.

So what can we conclude? With multiple players now in the market, and perhaps more to come, it will be very important for discounters to start to differentiate themselves beyond price and value to have that competitive edge.

Healthier range, happier shoppers

Posted by: HIM Fri, 26 Oct 2018

Consumer demand for healthier options shows no signs of slowing and with increased media awareness and government legislation, it is a category that all retailers need to be aware of.

Understanding the core differences between the average shopper and the healthy snacking shopper is essential in being able to target them and provide a suitable range, writes HIM’s Zoe Jag-Nathan.

The recent HIM Healthy Snacking Report 2018 shows that the healthy snacking shopper is likely to be a younger male, as opposed to the average shopper aged 45 and female, with a larger budget to spend.

The study also finds that different age groups of healthy shoppers have varying preferences when it comes to channel of shop – for example, the younger healthy snacking shopper prefers using the online channel and health specialists to shop. This highlights how pivotal it is to get online right, and how these shoppers seek expertise when buying into this category.

Healthy snacking can seem a daunting category to tackle with its sheer scale, big players and the differing perceptions of health among shoppers, however when looked at by sub-category it becomes a lot more manageable. The HIM research breaks down some core products within the category to provide insight into who is buying them, and why are they buying them. Protein bars, for example, are bought 0.5 times a week, predominantly as a snack (46%), with the top three importances for shoppers being protein content (54%), calories (38%) and sugar content (38%).

The report also highlights the specifics about what healthy snacking shoppers look for ingredients-wise in their desired products, with ‘no added sugar’, ‘100% natural ingredients’ and ‘containing plant-based protein’ among the factors.

With 69% of shoppers open to trying new things, there is a huge opportunity for retailers to take risks in order to find out what works for their stores and customers – for example, innovative ingredients, production methods, packaging or flavours. This is not a category that can be ignored by store owners and failure to act now will limit the huge potential it offers.

Fuelling growth at the forecourt

Posted by: HIM Fri, 21 Sep 2018

It is common for the forecourt shopper to be banded up within convenience, but the fact is they are very different. Forecourt retailers need to understand how to capitalise on these differences in order to drive footfall and grow their share of the market, writes HIM’s Giorgio Rigali.

The forecourt shopper is much more likely to be in full-time employment than the average convenience shopper (60% vs 43%). Commuters are using forecourts while travelling to and from work or between meetings. As a result, they are likely to be more time poor than the average convenience consumer. In fact, the average forecourt shopper spends 26 seconds less time in store than the average convenience shopper. Retailers therefore need to merchandise correctly to ensure shoppers can locate items quickly.

Average basket spend within a forecourt (£5.80) is 70p lower than the convenience average. With limited time to influence, retailers need to work hard to drive higher spend.

Cross-category merchandising is one way of achieving this. Place products that complement each other together and inspire your shoppers with POS and deals that encourage them to purchase additional products, or trade up.

The missions that are driving shoppers to store are constantly shifting, too. The importance of the fuel mission has decreased significantly since 2013, with mission penetration almost halving. Fuel has gone from comfortably being the main driver to a forecourt, to the third over the past five years, with top-up shop leapfrogging it into first.

Shoppers are increasingly turning to forecourts for their weekly top-up needs, up 9% in the past five years. However, this does not mean shoppers are no longer purchasing fuel, it just means the main reason they are visiting has changed.

Food to go continues to be a huge opportunity for forecourts, but it is top-up and treat that have seen their share of the channel increase. Retailers should consider creating theatre around the treat mission in order to tempt and inspire shoppers into indulging.

Due to the limited time to influence, retailers should also consider secondary locations for fixtures to increase the likelihood of driving shopper attention and footfall to specific products.

The healthy snacking offer

Posted by: HIM Fri, 24 Aug 2018

Consumer demand for healthier snacking options continues to gather pace, with greater focus and attention being placed on diets and lifestyles. HIM research shows that 40% of shoppers rate a range of healthy products as very important or important (8, 9 or 10 out of 10). This is equally important for both ABC1 (41%) and C2DE (39%) shoppers.Retailers and suppliers need to ensure that they have a range that satisfies their specific shoppers. Healthy snacking is a huge opportunity for growth, with those failing to act risking losing footfall. 

Having the right range is key. You must understand the needs of your shoppers and what their perception of healthy is. HIM asked shoppers what products they perceived as healthy and 
fruit (81%), nuts (63%) and dried fruit (56%) all scored highly.

Cereal and fruit bars scored 24% and 20% respectively, highlighting a need for a diverse range to satisfy different needs and perceptions.

Healthy snacking is a very broad category and there will be products that perform better in different locations, so retailers need to know 
what their shoppers want when it comes to healthy options.

The location of your healthy snacking fixture can also have a huge impact. Retailers need to make sure the products are visible and easy to locate. One-third of shoppers believe healthy snacks should be placed near the till, whereas one-quarter believe a better position is next to meal deals. Retailers need to consider secondary locations to help highlight the options available.

Secondary locations leads on to our final point – cross-category merchandising. Place healthier snacks with accompanying products to increase impulse and upsell opportunities.

As many as 27% of shoppers want more healthier options to be available within meal deals so tap into this trend and grow sales of other categories as well.

Healthier eating is clearly a growing trend, but shoppers interpret this trend in many different ways. By offering a diverse range of healthy and normal options you mitigate the risk of alienating certain shopper groups.

Beating the discounter

Posted by: HIM Tue, 24 Jul 2018

The discounters have laid down the gauntlet when it comes to price and challenged competitors to either enter a price war or seek alternative ways to generate footfall and sales, writes HIM’s Giorgio Rigali. So what can convenience retailers do to combat the discounters?

Both Aldi and Lidl have continued to grow the proportion of their shoppers on a main shopping mission, indicating an increase in higher value shoppers. In addition, both have seen an increase in the visit frequency of shoppers. This demonstrates that more shoppers are using discounters to top up, creating a huge challenge for the convenience sector.

However, there is still plenty of opportunity for convenience retailers to exploit. Food to go (FTG) is one of the key areas that the discounters are yet to tap into. FTG is the third largest mission driving shoppers into convenience. However, this has been in decline over the past five years, despite the wider FTG mission forecast to grow. This highlights a need for change, with retailers having to up their game in order to tap into this growing trend.

A lack of fresh choices is a barrier for a sizeable share of FTG shoppers to buying more FTG. Investment in this area will be crucial for the convenience sector, along with a greater focus on freshness to help to boost quality and health perceptions, with health being of particular importance to the FTG shopper (compared with the average c-store shopper).

In addition, HIM research also highlights clear differences between the convenience shopper and the discounter/supermarket shopper. The top three drivers to store within convenience are quality of staff, store appearance and ease of shop. In comparison, the top three drivers to store for discounters and supermarkets are price, product availability and quality of fresh.

Convenience retailers need to use these differences to their advantage. Top-up continues to be key, so ensure your store is easy to navigate. Drive satisfaction and sales by keeping your store and fixtures clean and well stocked.

The landscape of grocery may be changing, but the need for convenience still exists.

Winning during the World Cup

Posted by: HIM Tue, 26 Jun 2018

The 2018 World Cup kicked off with an emphatic win for the hosts and, although England’s chances of lifting the trophy are the lowest they’ve been for a while, there’s a huge opportunity for retailers to win this summer.

The nation is gripped by football fever, with more than half the population set to tune in, and 86% planning to watch at home. This means it’s crucial retailers are catering for viewers’ needs, tempting them through quality ranges, eye-catching displays and enticing cross-promotions.

Crisps and beer are the top two categories of choice to consume during the football, while pizza will also be popular, with one in three shoppers looking to choose this easy meal solution when rushing back for the 7pm kick-offs. Pairing these with beer or soft drinks in a football-themed meal deal could help drive basket spend.

Four in five viewers will be enjoying the action with friends and family, so sharing pack formats and multi-buy promotions will be important. The warm summer weather that most of the nation is enjoying at the moment could also lead to more barbecue occasions. Offering a good range of fresh meat and barbecue accompaniments will encourage shoppers to up their basket spend.

Price and promotions shouldn’t be the only factor in play and we could see customers trading up, as more affluent shoppers see convenience as most important when choosing which shop to choose for their World Cup trips. One in five ABC1s said that they were planning on buying food or drink at their local c-store for the matches. Retailers therefore need to make sure that they have craft and premium options available.

Aside from the usual food and drink, many c-stores will have taken advantage of the Panini World Cup stickers craze; 20% of 18- to 34-year-olds have either bought stickers for themselves or for someone else. This demographic is the most impulsive in convenience so retailers need to make sure stickers are clearly visible and near the till to encourage unplanned purchases.

Ultimately, the success of England will have 
a huge impact on sales, so let’s hope that Gareth Southgate’s young guns continue to deliver 
the goods.

Following the healthy agenda

Posted by: HIM Thu, 31 May 2018

It is no secret that the UK, along with many other countries, is facing an obesity crisis. According to a report by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), almost three in four UK adults will be overweight or obese by 2035 if the current trends continue, writes HIM’s Heidi Lanschuetzer.

The NHS claims that these forecasts could mean they will bankrupt it. But why has the UK been hit with this epidemic? Isn’t the choice of shoppers to eat healthily?

Healthy food and drink should not be luxuries. Just like in higher income groups, many consumers in lower-income groups have the desire to improve their diets and lead a healthier lifestyle, too. HIM research shows that C2DE shoppers (39%) and ABC1 shoppers (41%) are almost equally likely to rate a range of healthy products as very important or important (8, 9 or 10 out of 10).

However, with price being highlighted an important feature in buying food for three out of four (74%) shoppers, it comes with little surprise that price is commonly cited as a barrier to consuming healthier food among those in the lower-income groups.

It’s clear that a proactive approach is needed and that suppliers and retailers must work more closely together to make healthier options more accessible to shoppers.

There is a huge opportunity for both manufacturers and retailers to take a proactive approach in making healthy foods more accessible and affordable to a wider population, and in doing so staying ahead of the ‘state stick’ and boosting their reputation as being socially responsible.

Convenience is a key driver for meal choice among c-store shoppers. For instance, two-thirds of meal-for-tonight shoppers use at least some pre-prepared items when cooking their evening meal (HIM). Therefore, making it easy for shoppers to choose a healthier option over a not-so-healthy one is paramount. A big enough and clearly labelled choice of better-for-you ready meals and meal solutions should be part of a convenience store retailer’s range.

The challenges of new legislation

Posted by: HIM Wed, 2 May 2018

Changes to legislation have been a prominent topic over recent years. TPD2 and the sugar tax are directly and indirectly affecting specific categories, while pension auto-enrolment and the National Living Wage increases are putting a greater strain on independent retailers’ bottom line, writes HIM’s Josh Clifton.

Most suppliers and retailers have addressed the impact of these legislative changes and have embedded them into their strategies, but how prepared are they for the changes that are upcoming?

Minimum Unit Pricing (MUP) for alcohol comes into effect this week in Scotland, and will dictate that a base price of 50p per unit is charged across all alcohol SKUs. Many believe that white ciders and value spirits will be the categories most affected.

While the legislation is currently set to be implemented in Scotland only, there is already talk of similar regulation being introduced across the rest of the UK, so it is imperative that BWS suppliers begin to understand the threats and opportunities MUP may present for their brands.

So how prepared are retailers in Scotland for this impending legislation? We spoke directly to a number of Scottish independent and symbol retailers to find out how aware they are of the legislation, and what impact they believe it will have on their decision-making. The insights gathered shed light on how best BWS suppliers can support retailers during this challenging time – and it’s not just about advising on post-MUP pricing and ranges.

More than 24% of the Scottish retailers we spoke to still do not feel prepared for MUP and there is concern about visit frequency, redundant categories and a drop in spend.

Some 70% of retailers say they are considering range changes as a result of MUP. Given these responses, it is important that suppliers understand the concerns and challenges that they face in order to avoid their products disappearing from shelves. Implementing the support and upskilling that retailers have told us they require will provide a platform for turning MUP from a potential threat into an opportunity.

Healthy options

Posted by: HIM Thu, 12 Apr 2018

The Soft Drinks Industry Levy has come into force, taxing soft drinks based on the amount of sugar they contain, writes HIM’s Heidi Lanschuetzer. Proponents of the levy and similar taxing schemes argue that making things more expensive does change people’s behaviour. Is it unfair to argue, then, that the reverse – making healthier options more affordable and more accessible – could encourage healthier eating habits among consumers?

We know that price is a decisive feature for most shoppers (HIM, 74%) when buying food. It therefore comes as little surprise that it is commonly cited as a barrier to consuming healthier food among lower-income groups. In fact, a Which? survey found that almost three in 10 shoppers say they struggle to eat healthily as they believe healthier food is generally more expensive.

However, just like in higher-income groups, many consumers in lower-income groups have the desire to improve their diets and lead a healthier lifestyle. HIM research shows that C2DE shoppers (39%) and ABC1 shoppers (41%) are almost equally likely to rate a range of healthy products as very important or important (8, 9 or 10 out of 10).

There is a huge opportunity for retailers to take a proactive approach in making healthy foods more accessible and affordable to a wider population and there are various measures that can be taken other than simply reducing prices. One is to make it easier and more convenient for shoppers to choose a healthier option over a not so healthy one, considering that convenience is a key driver for meal choice for shoppers. In fact, two-thirds of meal-for-tonight shoppers use at least some pre-prepared items when cooking their evening meal (HIM). A wide and clearly labelled choice of better-for-you ready meals and meal solutions should therefore be part of every retailer’s range.

Another way is through promotional mechanics. Given that one in five convenience shoppers purchase something on promotion when in store (HIM), including more healthy options in deals and offers can help encourage cash-strapped shoppers reach for them instead of unhealthy alternatives.

Quick wins to influence shoppers

Posted by: HIM Tue, 6 Mar 2018

Convenience retail is arguably experiencing its biggest ever shake-up. Consolidation across the market creates an element of uncertainty, and with the rising demands of shoppers comes a greater need for the sector to adapt quickly to trends, writes HIM’s Giorgio Rigali.

But is it all doom and gloom for a sector that is forecast to see consistent growth over the next five years? Absolutely not! Is there still room for independent convenience stores? Absolutely! The pressures will cause numerous challenges to retailers, but there is a wealth of opportunity for independent players to tap in to.

On average, shoppers visit c-stores more than three times a week, creating plenty of openings for retailers to boost their sales and increase basket size. However, these visits last less than five minutes each time, so the opportunity to interrupt and influence is minimal. In fact, we know from our Convenience Display Effectiveness research that retailers have only 0.9 seconds to make a shopper notice a display. So how can you influence your customers in under five minutes?

Mission-led merchandising can be key to driving higher basket size and spend. It not only gives you the opportunity to upsell into other categories and promote more premium labels, it also creates a more convenient shopping experience, which can help increase loyalty and footfall frequency.

Mission-led merchandising isn’t the only way for retailers to tempt or inspire shoppers. Some 77% of convenience stores use secondary locations to drive awareness and penetration towards a category.

The use of innovative and well-placed secondary locations will distract shoppers and tempt them into an impulse purchase and incrementally improve sales. With 38% of impulse purchases being made due to temptation, there is a large opportunity here. Alcohol and soft drinks are the two best-performing categories when it comes to secondary locations, generating the most incremental sales.

Understanding the key methods of influencing a shopper while in store will enable you to build a robust strategy and achieve optimal growth in the future. Failure to act on this will hinder your ability to maximise growth.

Don't forget the elderly

Posted by: HIM Wed, 7 Feb 2018

Hardly a day goes by in the world of marketing without hearing or reading about Millennials, touted as the future powerhouse of consumers. Many businesses seem to have focused on making the most of the opportunities the millennial consumer brings, writes HIM’s Heidi Lanschuetzer.

In grocery retailing, one way this has become apparent is the rising prevalence of self-service checkouts. But as much as technology is enhancing the shopping experience for many, it can act as a deterrent to some. Indeed, a recent survey by the Centre for Future Studies, commissioned by Anchor, a charity for older people, found that almost one in four (24%) older people (70+) are put off by self-service checkouts, some finding them “intimidating” and “unfriendly”.

Older people (65+) make up a significant proportion of the UK population – 18% – and according to ONS projections will make up 24% of the total population by mid-2041. Over-65s also represent a pretty significant demographic in the context of convenience shopping. HIM data shows that those aged 65 years and older make up almost a quarter (23%) of total c-store shoppers. They are a valuable demographic, too. The average basket spend among 65-74s is £6.50 – compared with £6.29 for 25-34s – and they are more frequent shoppers, too.

The Centre for Future Studies estimates that by 2030, retailers who are not elderly-friendly could be losing annual spending of £0.58bn to £4.5bn. So not only does it make financial sense to cater to this demographic, but we also have a responsibility – as a society, as individuals and as business owners alike – to look after the elderly.

Human interaction is what gets older people into shops and there are many ways of enabling this, for instance by maintaining staffed checkouts, providing seating areas or hosting in-store book clubs and tea parties. Promisingly, retailers who demonstrate community involvement will be rewarded for doing so; HIM data shows that shoppers will visit a store more frequently if they rate the store’s community involvement more positively. So what’s stopping you from taking on some of the responsibility we all share in looking after the elderly?

New year, new starts

Posted by: HIM Wed, 10 Jan 2018

Entering the new year, the months of preparing for Christmas and stocking the store high with boxes of chocolates and bottles of Champagne are long gone. So as it’s 
out with old and in with the new, it’s helpful to know that 32% of men and 42% of women are 
this year making a new year’s resolution. As a result, retailers may need to think about changing their strategy and helping out shoppers with their resolutions, write’s HIM’s Chloe Kent.

With 33% of people saying their resolution this year is to eat healthier, retailers could consider offering healthier alternatives in their store for their shoppers.

For example, when shoppers were asked what they would like to see offered in a meal deal as an alternative to crisps, 35% answered bagged fruit and 26% answered veg and dip pots. Evidently, a focus for January needs to be skewed towards fresh and healthier options for shoppers and 
away from confectionery, unhealthy snacks and alcohol.

As well as healthier eating, 17% of people claim to be going dry for January. Given the rise in choice of non-alcoholic beers and alcohol-free alternatives, such as those from the likes of Heineken and Kopparberg, retailers can avoid losing out on sales from shoppers usually buying alcohol, while also helping out those who struggle to stick to their new year’s resolution. As 15% of people only stick to their resolutions for less than a week, alcohol-free options could help those struggling to quit.

Lastly, the new year is a prime time for smokers to decide to quit; 8% say they are planning on quitting or cutting down in the new year, and cigarettes and tobacco are continuing to be a declining footfall driver. This January could be an opportunity for retailers to embrace changing trends and switch their focus to e-cigarettes and smoking alternatives.

While not all shoppers will be making new year’s resolutions to be healthier, retailers undoubtedly need to move away from focusing solely on unhealthy options for shoppers this January.

The art and science of displays

Posted by: HIM Fri, 1 Dec 2017

There are more than 40,000 convenience stores in the UK, attracting 46 million UK adults every week. But shoppers behave differently in the convenience channel compared with grocery, spending much less time in store, writes HIM’s Blake Gladman. On top of this, the sector is fragmented and complex and there is no data available to validate the return on investment you get within shopper marketing. That’s why HIM has partnered with the leading point-of-purchase experts POPAI to bring together extensive shopper expertise and vision tracking technology to provide the first-of-its-kind review of the display effectiveness in convenience.

Over the past six months HIM and POPAI have been capturing shopper interactions and analysing nearly half a million point-of-purchase (POP) display interactions, meaning for the first time we can help retailers and suppliers challenge the conventional practices around shopper marketing.

Finding the perfect POP communication will always be a fine balancing act between a science and an art. What our research does show, though, is some helpful signposts as to the types of POP combinations that are best at communicating to shoppers, and the most efficient and effective at driving impact, engagement and conversion by key categories.

The main shelf still plays a pivotal role in influencing the shopper with six of the top 10 POP types featuring those located on the shelf, and with the best performer being simple product price communication. However, only three of the top 10 most effective displays contain a promotion, and our research would suggest that creating an atmosphere message and display is more powerful for engaging with a shopper who is typically in a ‘solution’ mindset when in store, and thus more driven by satisfying this need than by deals.

Dump bins with wraps are the most effective off-shelf solution to drive shopper engagement. With high impact given that they are in typically high-footfall location, they encourage strong engagement and conversion ratios, meaning these are fantastic tools to drive incremental sales while shoppers navigate the store.

Make the most of Christmas

Posted by: HIM Fri, 3 Nov 2017

It is becoming increasingly important to provide shoppers with an outstanding in-store experience. According to HIM Research & Consulting studies, shoppers who have a great in-store experience are likely to spend more in store, have a larger basket size, visit more frequently and recommend a store to a friend, writes HIM’s Alice Dolling.

While getting the basics right is fundamental to achieving high satisfaction, outstanding levels will only be met when retailers and suppliers go beyond the norm. One way of doing this is by playing to the seasons.

A great opportunity to leverage this is Christmas. According to c-store retailers, Christmas is the most effective seasonal event of the year in terms of driving sales – and it is just around the corner. Standout Christmas displays, clear communication regarding seasonal promotions and even staff dress-up days are just some ways to enhance the in-store experience.

Retailers and suppliers will need to keep on top of which seasonal events are trending in order to truly understand what will get the most engagement. For example, the number of consumers who searched for ‘Halloween’ in Google in 2006 was almost half of the number who did in 2016. Understanding when shoppers tend to start purchasing for a season is also important in order to know when to put up displays and so on – more than two-fifths of shoppers purchasing for Easter this year did so more than two weeks in advance.

While seasonal events are great at improving the in-store experience if cleverly planned, preparation needs to go beyond in-store experience factors. Understanding what shoppers will be demanding will be imperative to get the right range. For example, at Christmas-time nearly two in five shoppers are more inclined to purchase premium products from a c-store, and more than one in 10 will use their local c-store to purchase roast dinner items for their Christmas meal.

Retailers and suppliers should make the most of seasons; they should look at shoppers’ importances, needs and reasons for purchasing in order to get the right seasonal range. Executing this range with excellence will further drive value.

Tap into ethical values

Posted by: HIM Wed, 4 Oct 2017

With the cost of living continuing to increase while wages remain stagnant, shoppers – particularly generation z and young millennials – are choosing to spend their money differently from older generations. They are choosing to purchase experiences over material items.

This shift in behaviour has come hand in hand with the movement towards social consciousness, sustainability and a more mainstream appreciation for the ethical values of the items people are using and consuming.

One way to differentiate yourself is by being more socially conscious as a business and appeal to shoppers’ growing ethical and sustainable values. To gain a greater understanding of the topic, HIM spoke to more than 1,000 shoppers in July 2017 and found out that more than half feel that ethical food and drink products are important – 65% also considered food traceability important.

Furthermore, the results identified that the majority of consumers view brand transparency as important. In fact, this is so important to shoppers that nearly one-third of consumers have switched away from one brand to another because it was more environmentally or socially responsible.

Consumers are becoming more demanding about information on sourcing, production and values to determine whether they can trust a brand and whether a brand’s values match up with their own. Being completely transparent and upfront about this will prevent consumers hunting for information from third-party sources, but most importantly help to gain trust and build customer loyalty.

To tap into this movement, retailers should look to sell products from local suppliers and clearly communicate it when they do so. In addition, introducing campaigns that support the local community will also work well. Shoppers want to see brands and retailers supporting their local community.

If retailers are able to support local suppliers, build trust with local residents and be seen as a positive pillar in the community, then it’s highly likely that they will attract a wider range of shoppers and see positive returns as a result.

Clarity on policy

Posted by: HIM Mon, 25 Sep 2017

For almost every law, regulation and item of best practice that a retailer follows, there is the potential for an enforcement officer to have a differing opinion. 

For example, many retailers follow Challenge 25 when dealing with underage sales. If you get a visit from an enforcement officer and they want you to change that to challenge everyone, or those under 30, you may be forced to do so unless you’re covered under something called a Primary Authority partnership.

These partnerships are set up between either businesses or trade associations and local councils to provide one set of rules that all stores (or members of an association) can follow, regardless of where they are in England and Wales. This ‘Assured Advice’, if followed, means that all enforcement officers cannot force you to change procedures.

One of the major benefits is that you can get clarification on what’s acceptable quickly, especially when regulations are new and untested. For example, when the tobacco display ban came into force, government guidance stated that all price lists and labels had to be in Helvetica font, which is something that most computers don’t come pre-loaded with. However, through Assured Advice, we confirmed with Government that the Arial font was also acceptable.

At the start of October, there are big changes coming into force around Assured Advice, and from October the laborious form-filling process to sign up to a scheme will also be gone. We’re signing up thousands of retailers to Assured Advice in advance, and you can find out more at www.acs.org.uk/advice.

How to boost beer and cider

Posted by: HIM Fri, 22 Sep 2017

Across the convenience sector beer and cider suppliers increasingly compete with one another for prime in-store locations, with seemingly conflicting messages. Therefore, emphasis is on the retailer to understand their shoppers’ needs and expectations, writes HIM’s Matt Smith.

As the experts in shopper behaviour, HIM spoke to more than 1,000 beer and cider shoppers and retailers as part of a deep dive into the category. The data suggests that the percentage of alcohol drinkers within the convenience base is declining, with younger and older generations least likely to consume. As a result, retailers need to figure out solutions that offset these declines.

One way to do this is to place your beer and cider in the chiller. Shoppers prefer to purchase products cold. They also expect to find beer and cider products located in the chiller, more than any other category including soft drinks, and retailers need to consider this when allocating space in-store. If retailers fail to range in the chiller then they risk losing sales.

Ensure your range is suitable for your target customer, as beer and cider shoppers are very particular about what brands they purchase. Cider shoppers, in particular, are very brand loyal, with more than a third switching out of the category or leaving the store without buying if their preferred brand is unavailable.

Retailers should focus on everyday events to drive engagement with shoppers. It is unlikely, for instance, that shoppers will visit a convenience store to do their main Christmas shop unless it’s a distress mission. However, everyday events such as summer BBQs, family nights in and sports events fit perfectly with a c-store’s offering, so drive engagement with promotional mechanics, in-store signage and activity on social media.

If retailers can bundle categories together to create an occasion-based solution (eg beer, crisps and dip) then shoppers will be more inclined to purchase items outside of their traditional pattern.
Everyday events are a great way to drive engagement, and the use of cross-category promotions can play a key role in driving impulsivity and increasing spend. Ultimately, it’s about driving interest in-store, satisfying shoppers and becoming a point of difference.

Know your shopper Ys and Zs

Posted by: HIM Wed, 30 Aug 2017

What’s the difference between millennials (Generation Y) and Generation Z? This is a question that I get asked a lot and the answer is much more than just a date of birth. Broadly speaking, a millennial can be defined as those born in the early 80s, who came into adulthood in the early noughties; Generation Z are the natural successors, being born in the mid to late 90s and even early noughties, writes HIM’s Blake Gladman.

Millennials, by their very nature, are early adopters of technology. Born in an era of overwhelming technological advances, they have lived their formative years in a world which has been constantly changing. They know where they are, but they also understand how we got here.

This sets them apart from Generation Z, who  view technology as the everyday, along with the fluid movement of information, services and money across devices, between friends and around the world. They want to have ‘things’, they want to touch ‘things’ (is it any wonder that vinyl sales hit a 25-year high in 2017?). This is also a generation with a conscious. They genuinely want to save the world, and want to be associated with brands that they believe in.

So how can retailers satisfy these generations? First, it’s about delivering an experience. Whether this comes from the look and feel of the store (Instagram-worthy!), staff that truly engage and have knowledge about products, or in-store theatre that captures the imagination. Our latest UK shopper research suggests that delivering an exceptional in-store shopper experience can lead to significant increases in footfall, basket size, spend and advocacy.

Second, it’s about having a brand that they want to be associated with. Convenience retail has a lot of positives going for it that resonate with the Generation Z shopper – namely being local, independently run, supporting local communities, providing unique products not available in the mainstream stores. Shout about your independent roots and the products you source; be as open as you can with your food wastage, your environment and local community initiatives.

Look after Generations Y and Z as they will ultimately look after you.

Get ready for back-to-school

Posted by: HIM Wed, 26 Jul 2017

Summer is here, and with it comes the six-week holidays. While many parents are concerned with how to keep their kids entertained without school, retailers need to be considering how to prepare for that back-to-school season. If your store is within close proximity to a school you will well know that keeping mums and dads on the school run happy is key to better sales, writes Louise McWhirter.

So how can we make parents’ lives easier during those mad pre- and post-school rushes? The basics are key. Making sure that restocking and admin tasks are taken care of outside of school drop-off and pick-up times is essential, to allow shelves to be stocked and staff to be on hand to answer questions or serve at the tills. Meanwhile, clutter has to be avoided. Dump bins placed to interrupt the shopper’s flow down your aisles can cause more irritation than inspiration for those with young children and pushchairs.

When it comes to ‘right store, right range’, retailers with stores near to a school should be considering what items are most likely picked up for an after-school treat or found in the typical lunch box. One-third of children take a packed lunch to school every day. While the majority of parents say they source most of their packed lunch ingredients from supermarkets, there is a wealth of opportunity for small store retailers to be providing solutions from the top-up shop.

As many as seven out of 10 of parents with school-age children say that they make a conscious decision to ensure their children eat healthily at school lunch time. Three in four of children’s lunch boxes contain fruit, compared with just 17% which have chocolate included. While the priority of ensuring children enjoy a healthy diet away from home has been present arguably since Jamie’s School Dinners campaign back in 2005, the subject of health is ever-evolving. Ensuring you are catering to these changing demands is paramount. Retailers should be keeping up to date with relevant categories in growth at a national level and also speaking to local shoppers about their needs.

Adhering to these measures should play well in keeping mums and dads on the school run happy and helping ensure you are unlocking more sales.

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