Shoppers Loyale

Study finds younger adult consumers regularly shop for groceries at fewer stores

NEW YORK -- Some of the most prolific shoppers are ages 25 to 45. This family- and work-centric segment makes up more than a third of the adult population and spends more on household groceries than any other age group.

This consumer is also noticeably more loyal and, arguably, more convenience-driven.

“C-stores are in a good position to build loyalty since consumers who shop there regularly do so out of choice and not by accident,” Brian Sharoff, president of PLMA (Private Label Manufacturers Association) Consumer Research, told Convenience Store Products. “This is where friendly and knowledgeable personnel come into play. One cannot control the demographics, but one hopefully can control attitudes of employees inside the stores.”

A recent study by PLMA Consumer Research, “The Rise of Loyal Shoppers,” surveyed 1,059 men and women in this age range, revealing one key finding about their consumer habits: They do their regular grocery shopping at only two stores.

Eight out of ten in this age group shop at least weekly, but they aren’t running all over town to do it. This finding is a stark departure from formerly held conventional beliefs that consumers hunt deals and shop sales at three to five stores on a regular basis. The study also challenges the idea that American shoppers flock to shop at whatever store in town is new and exciting. Six out of 10 in the 25-to-45 age range report they have shopped at their favorite grocery store and mass merchandiser for more than five years.

“Many long-held assumptions—shaped by years of market dominance by the [baby boomer] generation—are no longer true,” Sharoff said. “Today’s consumer is not the same shopper we used to know.”

These shoppers are also buying more store-brand products, a finding that’s been echoed in other studies. [Link to my previous story on the Mintel study.] About half of the respondents in the study reported buying store brands “always/almost always/frequently” in supermarkets, drug stores and mass merchandisers—a dramatic increase since 1991, when the figure for supermarkets was only 12%. They are increasingly willing to try store brands in categories where they previously only purchased name brands and they are increasingly reporting favorable results in their micro-experiments.

“If you assume that the same forces are at work with those who shop at convenience stores,” Sharoff said, “then the answer would be to concentrate on the retailer’s own brands and make sure they are the highest quality and best packaged.”