Necessities Drive Most Outlet Trips

December 13, 2011

symphonyiri-trip-missions.jpg56% of all outlet trips in the 52 weeks ending August 21, 2011 were quick trips, meaning that the consumer needed a product immediately and needed to make a trip in order to purchase it, according to [registration page] a December 2011 study from SymphonyIRI. Data from “The CPG Basket: Fostering Growth in a Time of Conservatism” indicates that quick trips accounted for about one-quarter of CPG dollar sales, behind pantry stock-up trips (13% of visits, 39% of dollar sales), where consumers prepared for the coming week.

Special purpose trips, referring to non-routine purchases for specific events, accounted for 16% of all outlet trips and 18% of all outlet CPG dollar sales.

Trip Mission Shares Shift

Trip mission mix has shifted rather significantly during the past 2 years, according to SymphonyIRI. At the end of 2009, pantry stock-up share of trips and dollar sales was falling rather sharply, while quick trips were quickly gaining ground. Those trends slowed early in 2011, flattening in May, while in August, both missions showed low-level dollar share gains compared to the previous year. Overall, the shifts that have occurred during the past 2 years have pushed quick trip share of CPG spending up 2 points, and share of trips up 1 point.

According to SymphonyIRI insight, understanding trip missions among key consumer segments will enable retailers to optimize product mix and store layout and empower them to create powerful cross-promotion and merchandizing campaigns to reinforce or realign primary trip mix.

Quick Trips Dominate Drug and Dollar Channels

symphonyiri-trips-channels.jpgQuick trips made up the vast majority of drug (78.3%) and dollar (74%) channel visits, accounting for 52.7% and 48.5% of sales, respectively. And while quick trips also accounted for the largest share of missions in the other channels studied, pantry stock-up missions accounted for the largest share of sales within the grocery (49.9%), mass/supercenter (45.5%), and club (45.2%) channels.

These figures differ from October survey results from Nielsen: according to those findings, 60% of North American consumers indicated their primary reason for making a grocery store trip to be stocking up on staples. By contrast, 18% said they make a trip to pick up a few items, and just 7% said they shop when they run out of something at home.

Pantry Stock-Up Declines Across Channels

Indeed, according to SymphonyIRI, tight budgets are driving consumers to carefully consider their purchase habits: pantry stock-up declines are occurring across a majority of CPG channels, but are sharpest in the grocery channel. Between 2008 and 2011, pantry stock-up share of grocery trips and dollar sales fell 1% point and 1.5% points, respectively. Quick trips reaped the rewards of these declines, picking up nearly 1 point in share of channel trips and dollar sales throughout the period. Quick trip missions also appear to have gained dollar sales share at the expense of special purpose trips in the drug and dollar channels.

Other Findings

  • Quick trip missions are capturing share of spending across a majority of channels and income segments, but growth is strongest across middle and upper income brackets.
  • Quick trip share of spending has increased across Hispanic households (1.3% points) and households with children (1.3% points) during the past 3 years, largely at the expense of pantry stock-up share.
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