Kantar’s O’Donnell Unravels The Secrets To Gaining Unplanned Purchases


The Kantar Group Ltd.’s Leigh O’Donnell explores unplanned purchases across many categories, omnicommerce touchpoints and channels to understand what happens when they occur.

Washington — The newly released Retail in Transformation: Impulse study from The Kantar Group Ltd. focuses on the behavior and triggers of impulsive moments during shopping with shoppers across many types of unplanned occasions. The data looks at in-the-moment triggers across store, online, curbside, ambient and at-home commerce.

The study intercepted 500 shoppers during their normal in-store shopping trips and, using a geo-fenced survey methodology, was able to assess behaviors in-store during the shopping journey in a variety of retail channels.

Participants were asked to record photos and details of the shopping moment to answer the following questions: 

•     What was their trigger? 

•     Why did they select the item? 

•     What zones or fixtures did they select the item from? 

•     What sentiment/s did they feel during shopping? 

•     What shelf and promotional conditions existed at the time of the purchase? 

The study also focused on the behaviors and attitudes of an additional 200 online shoppers, both within their shopping journey as well as during pickup and delivery experiences, drawing comparisons between unplanned purchase moments when shopping in store compared to online shopping. In addition to shopper behavior analysis, the research includes a best practices for retailers and future-looking examples from across the globe.

The study found that:

1.    Unplanned Purchasing Is Hot: Nearly 80 percent of shoppers made an unplanned purchase across store-based retailers, with more than two-thirds buying multiple unplanned items.

2.   The Candy Aisle Is King: With in-store shopping, the aisle is overwhelmingly the primary location for unplanned purchasing, with 61 percent of consumers selecting an item from the aisle.

3.    No Promotion Required: 75 percent of aisle-based unplanned purchase selections did not have a visible deal or promotion.

4.   Sensory Sells: CPGs should dial up in-store sensory cues to interrupt shoppers’ pathways and spark emotions, including hunger and thirst, to foster unplanned moments.

5.    Hunger Matters: 36 percent of participants reported feeling hungry and 27 percent thirsty while shopping, with those shoppers being more likely to buy for immediate consumption. Almost half of shoppers who bought from the checkout reported feeling hungry.

6.   Online Unplanned Purchases Lag: Fewer shoppers make unplanned purchases online than in-store. The rate of unplanned purchasing among all participants was 79 percent in-store as compared to just 58 percent online.

7.    Develop Curbside Opportunity: No participants in the study reported selecting an item during curbside pick-up — primarily because of limited opportunity to do so — compared to 36 percent who purchased an unplanned item while picking up orders in-store.

8.    Personas Unlock Solutions: Six unplanned purchase shopper personas exist among the study participants, with “Deal Seeker,” “Discovery” and “Treat Myself” accounting for almost two-thirds of all participants in the study.

9.   Retail Is Everywhere: Beyond traditional retail environments, ambient unplanned purchase white space is everywhere. Brands are winning the ambient impulse moment with new business models and breakthrough experiments that go beyond the store.

10.  Impulse-Ready At Home: No channel is more important to retailers and FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) brands for unplanned decisions than the home, where there are more opportunities for impulse purchases. More CPG brands, retailers and even restaurants are pivoting to shoppers’ homes to capture snack and drink experiences that previously occurred in restaurants, bars and convenience stores.

Manufacturers and retailers need to know how to best seize the “plus one” opportunity with shoppers across many different types of occasions.

Traditional unplanned purchase opportunities are under threat due to ecommerce, evolving shopping behaviors and in-store evolution such as self-checkout and clean floor policies.

Kantar has studied the shopping moment from the shopper’s viewpoint and explores innovative ways retailers around the globe are finding new moments of impulsive conversion. Because, while the retail landscape might be evolving, one fact remains steady — both shoppers and retailers want “plus one” opportunities within the shopping occasion.

Leigh O’Donnell

Contributor Info: Leigh O’Donnell is the head of shopper and category insights & solutions at The Kantar Group Ltd. Her expertise spans a range of disciplines: shopper insights research, CPG shopper data and CRM programs, loyalty, analytics, organizational development and digital/ecommerce consulting. She can be reached at [email protected].