Of all the shopping habits that today’s consumers have, there’s an ingrained buying habit which brand marketers must break if they want to be super successful on the retail shelf.

70% of grocery shoppers have a fixed routine around their shopping habits.

Future shopping trends research tells us the weekly grocery shop, if it’s not already dead, it will soon be a thing of the past. Yet we know that today’s consumer shopping habits in-store remain more routine than ever[1].

Studies show that nearly 70% of Australia’s 14 million grocery shoppers, have a fixed routine when it comes to their in store shopping habits.[2]With such entrenched shopping behaviours in place, being able to challenge, change habits and get consumers to switch brands and products at the retail shelf  is the battle field for FMCG marketers. This battlefield for share of consumer wallet share is essential to win for both new and existing brands within the hyper competitive supermarket setting.

If brand marketers can break their targeted consumers buying habits, and if they are able to lead these new consumers to form new buying habits, they can become future brand advocates[3].

So how can brand marketers take advantage of consumers habitual buying patterns?

The single most important driver for consumers switching brands/products is price (68% ) this is then followed by quality (55% – BTW- The quality inside the box is created by the packaging design on the outside). Special promotions (45%) are also high motivational drivers for switching [4].

So the opportunity for brand marketers exists to grab the attention of potential target customers at the shelf and get them to switch. Rather than simply price or promotion, brand marketers can use the vehicle of shelf appealing packaging to cut through the consumers habitual thinking and engage them at the supermarket shelf.

A compelling pack on shelf has the ability to reach out and grab the attention of shoppers and break their old entrenched buying habits.

A golden opportunity to break shopping habits

Scripted behaviour” underpins many repetitive human routines and tasks, grocery shopping being one of them. Whilst numerous studies have clearly demonstrated that consumers buy groceries out of habit, there is current research demonstrating that shoppers DO have an openness and curiosity for the new. Today’s consumers are very receptive to exploring fresh and exciting products that capture their imagination on the shelf. This propensity to check out other  “interesting” products on shelf happens even whilst they are reaching for their regular habitual selections. Did you know that 66% of consumers of have tried something new simply because of the packaging compelling them to give it a go? [4]

The other opportunity provided by compelling packaging design is the consumer trend towards unplanned meals. According to a 2015 report issued by The Co-operative Food, consumers are “crossing off the idea of the shopping list and pre-planned meals in favour of spontaneity“. Today’s grocery shoppers are now now deciding what to eat on the day rather than planning days or weeks in advance.[5] This “shopper spontaneity“offers a golden opportunity to brand marketers who are looking to grow their shelf sales. If they can grab these casual consumers attention at the shelf, they could become part of their regular shopping routine.

Switching without research

So we know that consumers buy their favorite tried and tested products, out of habitual shopping habits. We also know that they’re not averse to trying out new products should those products appear appealing. Here’s what you might not know. The majority of these openly looking consumers are making “switch decisions” on the spot. Their  impulsive buying is in most cases without doing any research first. “A majority (64%) of consumers will sometimes buy a product off the shelf without researching it first” says Brian Richard, director of BrandPack. [6] In fact, a Nielsen poll concludes that, even despite the smartphone revolution, most consumers (72 %) rarely use a mobile device to research a product whilst actually shopping. [7]

16% of consumers never use a shopping list whilst between 40% and 60% will typically write down only the key products they require [8]. Only a third of grocery shoppers actually keep strictly to their pre-made shopping list once in store. This presents a massive opportunity for brand marketers to capture these impulsive purchases.  Yes whilst this unplanned shopper poses a potential goldmine, they also remain an enormous challenge to engage. Research shows a typical shopper faces an estimated 600 items per minute in a large supermarket and on top of that, 85% of human decisions are sub-conscious and habitual in nature [9]. Meaning that the consumers will revert to buying what they already know and ordinarily buy. (38% of consumers repurchased a product because of the packaging.[10])

Emotional connecting product packaging

A product’s packaging has under five seconds to capture the shopper’s eye. Once at the shelf, the pack must induce the consumer to pick it up. Once the consumer has the pack in their hot little hands, the pack must both engage them and ultimately influence them to pop it into their shopping trolley. The packaging is tasked with compelling the potential customer enough to break an established buying pattern and ultimately pay for the product at check-out.

With such a short time-frame of exposure and a monumental shift required in consumer behaviour, the use of impactful visuals and messaging is required to immediately trigger an emotional connection between the product and shopper.

By strategically designing packaging, the brand marketer can shift consumer buying behaviour anfd change the consumers shopping habits to suit themselves.