New players are gnawing away at the market share of the classic supermarket. The buying behaviour of younger generations requires a new, holistic view of consumer and shopper segmentation. “The classic compasses no longer suffice.”
By 2030, millennials and younger generations will represent 30% of the purchasing power in the consumer market. Their consumption behaviour differs fundamentally from that of affluent baby boomers, whose importance in the market is now systematically declining. For retailers and FMCG manufacturers, it is crucial to understand what drives their purchasing decisions: what products do they buy where, when and how?
Remarkably, the classic distinction between ‘consumer’ and ‘shopper’ is blurring, says shopper marketing expert Luc Demeulenaere. This has to do with the growing importance of online, convenience and on-the-go consumption. “The consumer becomes a shopper the moment she pulls out her smartphone, looks at products and clicks on ‘buy’. In fact, we need to move towards integrated consumer and shopper segmentation. And also to e-commerce category management: brand presence is completely different in the shop than online.”
Understanding that multichannel behaviour requires a holistic approach. A broad view that links together data from different sources and angles. “Everyone focuses on the classic compasses, such as shopping and consumer panels that only measure classic household purchases. But that’s not the world today: it’s happening elsewhere,” says Dirk Vanderveken of Shopperware, who studies the new shopper behaviour.
According to him, the enormous growth of e-commerce in food does pose a threat to traditional supermarkets: new players are winning. “They are not yet profitable, but you have to map that out. If you only look at the supermarket universe, you miss part of the picture: that piece of the pie is only getting smaller. You can do great within that universe, but then you’re cheating yourself.”
For the consumer-with-the-smartphone, there is more than the traditional food retail. “He has so much choice: will it be Collect&Go or a quick bite for today? Will I quickly pick up something at the petrol station? Or will I eat somewhere on the spot? The question of who buys where and why is much more complex today than it was five years ago.” The consumer is a chameleon, taking on different guises depending on the mission: an urgency on the go, stock purchases at Colruyt, going to Delhaize for a prepared meal… “Whether the consumer goes to McDonald’s or to Carrefour, it’s the same consumer.”
Food retailers sometimes miss obvious opportunities, Luc Demeulenaere believes. “Many butchers now have a smart refrigerator outside, where you can collect the products you ordered online outside of the opening hours. That boomed during the lockdown. Butchers compete with convenience stores in this way. Food retailers do update their proximity concepts, but where is that fridge? They are missing the boat. And with Collect&Go you sometimes have to wait two days… People don’t think holistically.”
It’s all about data and insights: “Amazon beats traditional retailers because they know much better what the online consumer wants. Traditional retailers just add online, they bring their physical store online. Also, the data quality of manufacturers is often too weak to play along online, GS1’s experience shows. Multinationals pay millions to Amazon for advertising. Colruyt misses out on that money, which makes them less competitive.
However, things can be different. Luc Demeulenaere and Dirk Vanderveken link a new shopper marketing model to a representative multichannel consumer panel. That shopper research can be deepened by applying Artificial Intelligence to the observed buying behaviour. In this way, they give companies the direction they need to avoid getting lost in the new consumer-shopper journey. Their approach is not only reserved for large multinationals: “We work pragmatically. If you know what you need to know – and especially what you don’t – then you don’t need to measure everything. Besides, the new generations don’t really lose any sleep over brands. Even as an SME, you can really make a difference if you are distinctive.
Appointment on 30 September
Save the date: with Luc Demeulenaere and Dirk Vanderveken, RetailDetail brings the Belgian (and European) top in the field of shopper marketing to Antwerp. Demeulenaere had an international career at Procter & Gamble and is co-author of the standard work ‘Category management yesterday, today and tomorrow’ by ECR Europe (in collaboration with Dr. Brian Harris, one of the absolute founders of category management). Vanderveken held national and international positions at GfK before founding his own market research company Shopperware.
During the Trade & Shopper Marketing Congress of RetailDetail and LD&Co on 30 September, they will share the stage with speakers from Carrefour and PepsiCo, among others. Don’t miss it! It will be a hybrid event: 200 tickets are available for participants who want to experience the congress on site, in the event location of RetailDetail in Shopping Stadsfeestzaal in Antwerp. Others can follow the live stream from a distance. You can find more information about the programme and order tickets via this link.