Shopper Behaviour


There are fundamental patterns of shopper behaviour that are so consistent to be considered ‘law-like’ – the same in supermarkets, large hypermarkets, small convenience and speciality stores, shown in multiple countries (US, UK, China and Australia) over the last decade.

Key Findings

  • Shoppers’ store choices are governed by: convenience, pricing and assortment.
  • Store choice is a repeated, habitual choice, low cognitive task where we go back the stores we know.
  • The most common number of items in a basket is 1…includes large hypermarkets with >40,000 items!
  • NBD distribution of very light buying, small basket sizes – biggest growth opportunity is from selling additional items to light buyers.
  • Shoppers frequently don’t recall promotions and can’t recall the price of an item immediately after adding it to their basket.
  • Most shopping trips are short – two thirds of all shopping trips, and a third of all supermarket trips are completed in less than 10 minutes.
  • Shoppers tend to buy few items, on a number of short trips; on average 2.3 trips per week.
  • Shoppers only visit a small portion of the store…on average the area of supermarket visited on a trip is only 1/3.
  • Shoppers follow predictable shopper paths (‘Race track” and “U-turn”), ducking in-and-out of aisles and avoiding tightly packed areas.
  • Offline and online shoppers behave similarly in respect to speed – most choices take less than 10 seconds in supermarkets and less than 15 seconds online. The explanation presumably lies in the fact that buyers have already established loyalties and therefore have little need for evaluation when shopping these categories online (or in-store).

Best Practice

  • Make it easier for shoppers looking for your product category and brand to find them fast.
  • Brand managers need to make it as easy as possible for shoppers to find their brand online.
  • Conduct market research to find out where customers expect to find the product, and what cues they use to navigate towards it.
  • Focus on helping shoppers recognise and find brands quickly on shelf by providing visual cues, such as images or colours, leveraging your brand’s Distinctive Assets, colours, shapes, characters and logos.
  • Retailers should keep stock location static. Brand managers should undertake minimal changes to packaging, unless it is to improve visibility and recognition of the brand, to keep it easy for existing customers to find the brand/SKU.
  • Consider shopper flow and density to identify locations for secondary displays in-store to ensure that every shopper has the opportunity to see and shop the category even if they visit just a small proportion of the store.
  • Aim for reach in shopper communications.