Views from the Hills by R. E. Stevens, GENESIS II (The Second Beginning) E-Mail

Time is Critical

I have frequently written about how critical time is in the development of an idea, product and finally the brand.  During the past year it has become apparent to me that not only is time very critical to the manufacturer but also to the consumer, namely the shopper.  Shopping for my wife and I is a slow, leisurely paced social event.  That is the result of 13 years of retirement.  However, while studying the shopping habits of the typical shopper with Herb Sorensen in the development of PathTracker®, it has become obvious that my wife and I are A-typical in the shopping arena.

In working the PathTracker® data, it is obvious that shopping for the typical consumer is a fast-paced event.  I would have never guessed that 77% of the shopping trips last 20 minutes or less.  My wife and I are lucky to get through the produce section in 20 minutes.  The speed of the shopping trips is not as big of a concern for me as the area of the store covered in that time.  Our data indicates that 99% of the shopping trips cover 75% or less of the store.  Actually 84% of the shopping trips covered 50% or less of the store area.  Is there a message here for the manufacturer?  I think so.

How many marketers think that the thousands of shoppers going through the doors of a supermarket are likely purchasers of their brands?  Years ago, more than I care to remember, my mentor told me that to complete a sale, the shopper had to go to a store where your brand was sold, enter the store, go down the aisle where your brand is displayed.  After PathTracker® data, I think a lot about it.  There are product categories where less than 10% of the shoppers ever visit the category, let alone shop it.  I spent most of my career in the package soap business.  I never once thought the percent of shoppers visiting my store aisle was less than 10%.  Yep, less than 10%.  Where does your brand category stand?

This type of information should be considered to be very important to anyone selling a brand in the supermarket.  Especially if your brand just happens to be in a category where a substantial part of your sales are of a discretionary nature.  Do you even know the percent of discretionary or spontaneous purchases in your category?  You should know it.  It can be very important to your brand's health.

If you happen to have a brand that is in the category of high spontaneous purchases and in a store aisle that has low penetration, how do you increase sales?  Answer:  stimulate more shoppers to go down your store aisle and attract their attention.  Sounds good, but how do you test the ideas since there are many and how do you assess the effectiveness of your stimulation?  Answer:  test using real stores.  How do you measure effectiveness in a timely manner?  Answer:  through sales.  But that is only half the game.  You need to see if you truly stimulated more shoppers (and how many more) to go down the store aisle.  How?  Use PathTracker®.  It gives you all the answers.  Am I biased?  Yes, but please forgive me.  While PathTracker® is Herb Sorensen's idea and I had minimal involvement in the development, I still consider it to be one of my babies.

Sponsor:  Sorensen Associates Inc      Portland, OR  800.542.4321        Minneapolis, MN  888.616.0123
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