Published on: April 7, 2004One of a series of articles previewing the annual Food Marketing Institute (FMI) show, scheduled for May 2-4 in Chicago.
This year at the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) Show, on Monday, May 3 from 8:15 to 11 a.m., a "super session" will focus on a new Coca-Cola Research Council study designed to transcend traditional demographic views of consumers, to look at "state of mind occasions for shopping," occasions that can be both overlapping and divergent. These "need states" include:
The results of the Coca Cola Retailing Research Council’s most recent study on consumer shopping patterns and how these trends impact sales and profits will be revealed. Key findings will enable retailers to see their customers, not only through the lens of gender, age, ethnicity and other traditional categories, but with an expanded vision that describes your customers based upon their fundamental wants and needs. This new vision will give food retailers alternative insights on how to “recognize your customers” and personalize your marketing and merchandising message as a solution for growth.
• The "Keeper," who is responsible for caring for the family.
• The "Banker," who must shop within a budget.
• The "Quartermaster," responsible for efficient replenishment.
• The "Hunter," always is search of a bargain.
• The "Desperate" shopper, looking for food out of some urgent need.
• The "Courier," who needs "grab and go" food.
• The "Reluctant" shopper, just trying to get through the day.
• The "Seeker," looking for discovery.
• The "Hungry" Shopper, seeking immediate gratification and consumption.
It is critical, according to Kevin Davis, president/chairman/CEO of Bristol Farms and one of the session presenters, for a retailer to choose his or her spots…to accept the notion that you can't be everything to everyone. It can be done through format selection, or it can be done through canny product selection that is focused rather than exhaustive.
We turned to Bill Bishop of Willard Bishop Consulting, who is the coordinator of the Coca-Col Research Council, for a preview.MNB: The Coke Research Council came up with a series of nine “need states” that differentiate the consumer. Is there any kind of single, overriding need that you see as connecting all consumers, or is that “old thinking”?Bill Bishop:
Specific needs vary by need state, and that’s the challenge for retailers—particularly supermarket. For example, no one likes lines, but getting in and out quickly is more important to Small-Basket Grab & Go need state shoppers than to the Smart Budget Shopping need state shopper. The new and different thing about this study is that we now know what’s more and what’s less important by need state.MNB: Based on the research, is there a sense of how many need states a retailer can meet at a single time?Bill Bishop:
We found that the number of need states a retailer must serve well is directly related to their strategy.
Most supermarkets are generalists in their communities, so by definition, they have to do a good job of serving all the need states, which can be hard but not impossible.
If the retailer has selected a more focused strategy such as serving upscale customers or being a price-impact operator, they can afford to focus on a smaller number of need states, i.e., those that are important to customers typically shopping in their stores.
That said, regardless of the retailer’s strategy, they need to focus their communications on branding their ability to serve one of the need states, i.e., they need to establish what they’re known for in the market. In other words, if you can’t be all things to all people, how many things can you be to how many people, and still be effective? Can you offer some examples?MNB: Does it follow that a retailer that wants to be all things to all people is doomed because it will end up being nothing to anyone?Bill Bishop:
No, assuming they can execute a strategy where they 1) Deliver well against all need states, and 2) Can brand themselves and be known for uniquely serving one of the need states.”MNB: So let us follow up by asking if it makes sense in the current environment to try and be all things to all people...or whether it makes more sense to identify one or two need states and go after those relentlessly?Bill Bishop:
It makes sense, but most supermarkets would have to totally reinvent themselves to do it which, of course, would be hard. Also, the market for just a couple of need states might not be enough to support a store. MNB: The Coke Research Council has made some significant analytical progress since the early results were revealed in January at FMI Midwinter. Can you give us a taste of some of the revelations you’ll be making at FMI in May?Bill Bishop:
Some of the new learnings include:
MNB: What’s the biggest surprise to you in this research?Bill Bishop:
- Supermarkets are very strong generalists in the market, and the challenge is that there are specialist retailers serving each need state that do a better job than the supermarket.
- Very focused retail specialists like warehouse clubs and limited-assortment stores deliver exceptional experience to their customers.
- Some more focused supermarkets, e.g., those focusing on upscale, natural and organic, and/or price impact, deliver stronger levels of experience to shoppers than do the less-focused supermarket operators.
- The supercenters don’t deliver a better experience to shoppers than do supermarkets. But, in undifferentiated markets, price dominates and supercenters can win on this basis.
Consumers are really looking for a valuing things beyond price in grocery shopping. For example, new and interesting products are gauged very important, and supermarkets don’t get a very good score in this department.MNB: How important is it for a retailer to drill down to make precise connections between specific need states and specific customers?Bill Bishop:
It’s very important. Here are two examples.
1) To serve the “Discovery” need state, a retailer needs enough new and interesting items that are generally not evident in most supermarkets. To connect with consumers in this need state, stores have a significant opportunity to showcase new items. For example, in a What’s New? Section and to draw attention through either merchandising or fixture design to specialty and ethnic products. We know this works; we also know that only a minority of supermarkets engage in this kind of merchandising.
2) Small-Basket Grab & Go need state shoppers just want to get in and out. Some of the things that retailers can do to connect more directly with shoppers operating in this need state include designated parking, self-checkouts, and moving selected, high-demand items to the front of the store. Of course to really get credit for all this, the retailer has to explain and “sell it” to customers.
That’s what the report is all about.For more information, go to: