Knowing what consumers want

Consumers will be looking for the fastest and most convenient shopping experience around – they’ll expect a variety of efficient payment methods such as Oyster and self scanning. They will want to find products easily, and will not tolerate queues.

Signage will need to be clear, layouts logical with key selling lines in the most accessible locations in-store. Shoppers won’t necessarily be shopping for products, they’ll be looking for quick, efficient, increasingly healthy solutions.

Understanding and tailoring ranges and layouts based on shopper missions will come to the fore. Wholesaler implication: are your branches replicas of stores? Do you have the “perfect depot” in terms of ranges and accessibility? In-store theatre, merchandising, POS, and communication will be the main purchase triggers. Wholesaler implication: encourage retailers to use POS to trigger treat and trial purchases and to improve shopper awareness rather than “same old” price reduction communication.

Thirty five per cent of all meal occasions will be eaten out of the home. Consumers will want to eat at the times they want to eat and will not tolerate mid-afternoon or post 7pm out-of-stocks. Wholesalers will need to extend their own snacking offer to retailers, improving credibility in healthy (or healthier for you) immediate consumption lines (if only starting with impulse servings of fresh fruit).

Customer loyalty will be driven by the people working in stores, not products or product brands. Shoppers will want to see empowered, committed, motivated staff – customer-focused organisations will win. Shoppers will become more demanding on issues like nutritional information, food miles, and the environment. Will the wholesale market be as quick to embrace these changes as retail?

Local product sourcing will continue to gain momentum. Farmers markets and specialist food retailers (butchers, bakers, green-grocers) will continue to attract more consumers hunting for provenance and quality, so the fresh bar will continue to rise. Could cash and carry car parks be used to host local farmers markets?

Health/healthier for you products will be right up shoppers’ agendas… but indulgence and self treating will grow also with habits and diets moving increasingly from the mid ground to healthy and indulgent peaks and troughs. Consumers will want to see dedicated health zones in stores. Functional foods will be high on consumers’ shopping lists. Will wholesalers have dedicated healthy food zones in their branches? Will they even offer it in their branches? It’s high margin, high demand stuff…

Technology will continue apace with more services becoming available to shoppers. Shoppers will use c-stores as a hub of services where almost anything should be available to them – but they want immediacy (“I want it here, I want it now”). What are wholesalers doing to offer services to their retailer customers? Are they even aware how many of their retailer customers have cash machines, accept utility payment or offer necessary services in their communities.

Promotions will be important to a select band of consumers… but won’t make up for poor availability, service, range. There will always be people who love a great deal – but for some, promotions will be about highlighting a product to tempt me (shoppers will want more indulgence and self treating) rather than the simple communication of established products at cheaper prices. Wholesalers, retailers and suppliers will need to rebalance the amount of time spent trading and discussing terms with greater focus invested in category and sales development.

Gift shopping will be about last minute and premium. A great opportunity for the convenience sector, should they wish to exploit it. A great opportunity for wholesalers to develop their own gifting range to sell to retailers to sell to consumers.

Do retailers have a credible range of greetings cards? Do they sell bottle bags for champagne or wine? Do they sell speciality beers? Forty four per cent of men admit to leaving buying presents until the last day.

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