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    Leveraging Total Store Connectivity

    Shoppers spending most in center store, so take advantage of that strength

    By Jim Dudlicek, EnsembleIQ

    Fresh is it, and the perimeter is the place to be, right?

    Well, yes and no.

    The fresh departments like produce, deli, bakery and prepared foods are certainly the showplace of most grocery stores. Retailers spend most of their time and energy highlighting these higher-ticket categories, and store designers typically make these areas the showcase of each store.

    But the average grocery shopper spends nearly 80 percent of his or her grocery dollars on center-store products. That’s according to a report this month from Nielsen, which makes the case that, despite the attention lavished on perimeter categories, most consumers are total store shoppers.

    Using All the Aisles

    “Even the most fresh-focused shoppers only spend around 30 percent of their grocery dollars on fresh,” the Nielsen report states. “Since shoppers use all of the aisles in the store to solve everyday needs, retailers and manufacturers need to better understand how shoppers connect the dots across aisles for meal solutions and everyday eating occasions.”

    It’s that connectivity that’s going to help grocers better drive sales across all categories and leverage the sleeping giant in center store. Shoppers’ desire for convenience and budget-friendly options, along with fresh foods, are shifting store dynamics, Nielsen maintains: “Now, more than ever, the path to brand and store growth requires a thorough understanding of the entire store.”

    The Nielsen report continues: “Retailers and manufacturers have traditionally examined product performance and built strategies using views focused on only an aisle or department. But this is not how shoppers see the store. The isolated view makes it difficult to understand how one part of the store affects another. Through a traditional lens, for example, the recent growth of fresh products like deli-prepared chicken or value-added vegetables and the flat or declining sales of center-aisle staples seem to indicate that certain products are ‘stealing’ sales from one another. But this perception is limiting and based on unfounded assumptions.”

    Retailers can cash in on what Nielsen describes as “an evolving ecosystem of connected products.” Ultimately, the report concludes, total-store connectivity offers a unique perspective on how consumers buy across the aisles: “With this understanding, manufacturers and retailers alike can leverage their values and shape their stores to better serve consumer needs.”

    By Jim Dudlicek, EnsembleIQ
    • About Jim Dudlicek As editor-in-chief of Progressive Grocer, Jim Dudlicek oversees daily operations of the magazine, spearheads its signature features, produces PG’s monthly Trend Alert newsletter on center store issues, moderates its regular webcast series, and writes and comments about a wide range of grocery issues. A food industry journalist since 2002, Jim came to PG in June 2010 after covering the dairy industry for 7½ years, during which time he served as chief editor of Dairy Field and Dairy Foods magazines. A graduate of Marquette University, Jim is fascinated by how truly progressive grocers inspire consumers to enjoy food, transforming the industry from mere merchants into educators that can take the most basic of all necessities and turn it into something profound and life-enhancing.

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