In a world where technology puts information and data at our fingertips and consumers are researching, planning, and seeking value in their food buying experience, does visual merchandising really make a difference?
According to a recent study, on-location decision rate was at an all-time high of 76%. Simply stated, consumers either made purchases where they:
- had a general idea of what they were looking to buy, but weren’t brand specific
- made a substitution of brand or product once they were on location
- made a purchase completely on impulse
Supporting that same finding, more than 50% of retail consumers of fresh deli and prepared foods and nearly 58% of fresh bakery decided to visit that section after they arrived at the grocery store.
While these findings might sound counter-intuitive based on all we know about consumers using smart phones and technology to “pre-tail” or research before they actually make a purchase, it doesn’t mean your customers aren’t planning. It simply means they are flexible with their purchases once they are actually on location. If there is one thing we know for sure, it’s that consumers buy with their eyes.
An industry report found that 24% of deli shoppers and 33% of bakery shoppers said, “I was walking past the section and something caught my eye”. The same study also revealed that 72% of consumers rated “food items that were visually appealing” as one of the top three most important aspects when evaluating the fresh deli department of the store. Merchandising food displays in an appealing way captures consumers’ attention and influences their buying decisions.
Visual appeal goes beyond just looking good. As health and wellness trends continue, the concept of fresh is becoming the standard for food. A Progressive Grocer survey indicated that 52% of shoppers said freshness was extremely important. However, only 21% said prepared foods at their regular grocery stores met their standard. Opportunity exists to raise the bar on the perception of freshness around prepared foods and merchandising plays a key role in the perception of “fresh”. According to David Whitesel, Account Development Manager at Hubert, an independent retailer partnered with Hubert to merchandise their fresh departments for a store opening and saw their first week sales come in at 40% over their projected sales number. “This experience isn’t unusual. Time and time again, retailers see a lift in sales after implementing a new merchandising strategy,” Whitesel said.
While shoppers are armed with technology and data to help make informed buying decisions, the reality is this: consumers can be persuaded. Opportunity exists to influence consumer buying behavior through effective merchandising. The only question that remains: Are you investing enough in merchandising to influence your customers’ behavior?