How to capture top-up shoppers

The majority of UK shoppers still do a ‘big shop’ once a week, however the trend towards top-up shopping is on the increase. Michael Freedman, shopper insight manager at IGD, looks at the impact this trend has on the convenience channel and how you can benefit from it.

What customers are saying:
  • “We go shopping most days to get something. My son told my wife today that he needed some mincemeat for a cookery lesson.” Shopper, Manchester.
  • “We got back from holiday early this morning and went there (supermarket) to get a pint of milk at 1am.” Shopper, Coventry.
  • “We treat all these types of stores, including supermarkets, like the corner shop now.” Shopper, Manchester.
  • “I go there to get a top-up shop and then buy more.” Shopper, Coventry.
  • The range of tinned products was very sparse there (c-store). I now prefer to go to (supermarket A) to top-up.” Shopper, Coventry.
  • You don’t get as good a deal in the smaller convenience stores.Shopper, Coventry.
  • “If you are getting ingredients for a roast, you would want to pick up the gravy and the meat together.Shopper, Islington.

Any place, anywhere, any time.

Participants in focus groups have been telling me recently they are increasingly ‘top-up shopping’ throughout the week in addition to their main weekly shop. They appear to be exploiting all top-up opportunities to fit in with their busy lifestyles. Shoppers are now also using a range of different channels and retailers to meet their top-up shopping needs. 

Challenging convenience.

As a result, convenience is facing increased threat from other channels for the top-up shopping mission, which has historically been a convenience stronghold.

Our recent research on the discount channel revealed that food discounters are encouraging more shoppers to spend a higher proportion of their monthly food and grocery spend within the channel.

However, what has been particularly striking to me has been the willingness of shoppers to conduct their top-up shops in larger sized supermarkets and even hypermarkets, due to the perceived better range and cheaper prices compared to convenience stores.

Showcasing convenience credentials.

Despite these challenges, there are opportunities for convenience to grow alongside these other channels, to meet the needs of top-up shoppers. This requires a clear understanding of local shoppers’ requirements on pricing, promotions, range and missions.

Our recent Convenience Channel Focus research revealed 3 key areas to help meet the needs of top-up shoppers in c-stores:

  1. Leverage gondola ends to drive impulse promotional sales. Two-thirds (64%) of c-store shoppers always keep an eye out for promotions there. Learn more about this here.
  2. Dual siting provides inspiration and helps many shoppers to save time
  3. In-store events are very popular. However, it is important to recognise that engagement with in-store events differs by c-store segment.
raaj chandarana
Last Christmas retailer Raaj Chandarana held a festive celebration in his Premier store

Ways to help your shoppers.

Channel definitions will blur more than ever going forward: think more about missions and less about pre-assigned ‘formats’ to best meet shopper needs.

  • Are you encouraging shoppers to choose c-stores rather than travelling further to conduct top-up shops at other channels?
  • Are you exploring how to provide more relevant and inspirational dual siting?
  • Are you working to produce in-store events which provide shoppers with solutions, enjoyment and inspiration?
Join me at IGD’s 2015 Convenience Summit on 4th June – designed for everyone who wants to improve their performance, knowledge and connections in this fast-paced, fast-growing channel.


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