Marketing to Moms: Just-in-time Shopping Replaces Pantry Loading

February 16, 2011 § 2 Comments

What’s in your pantry?  Is it bloated or on a diet?

One of the lasting behaviors of the Great Recession may be “just in time shopping”.  I was thinking about Spring shopping the other day, and how we had to rush out in the middle of winter to ensure that we got the latest fashions for Spring. And how I had to have two or three stockpiled items of essentials in my pantry.  But the recession has reshaped how consumers and how retailers think.

Wall Street Journal called it “The Just-in-Time Consumer”. Taking a page from Wal-Mart logistics, it seems that women are buying closer to the real need, buying smaller units and refusing to buy in bulk when we don’t need it.  So, what that means is that name brand are seeing that consumers are only buying what they need for a specific period of time.  Gone are the days when my pantry might have six jars of mayo because I always buy several out of fear of running out.  Part of the reason for this new conservative mindset is the unemployment, loss of home values and plunging 401Ks that made many of us experience a new thrift mindset.

According to IRI data, the number of  items kept in American pantries has fallen about 20%.  P&G estimates that one-third of consumers have changed their pantry loading habits.  And the club stores like Costco are responding with smaller sizes of products.

Nielsen reports our shopping trips are segmented into four kinds

  • Immediate: low-value, instant -need driven baskets with an average basket ring of $15 per trip
  • Fill-In: slightly higher value baskets averaging $51 per trip
  • Routine: weekly, high-value shopping trips averaging $98 per trip
  • Stock-up: large trips averaging $242 per trip

Some 82% of our shopping trips fall into the small or “immediate need” category.  Larger basket trips are more important for the affluent, but smaller trips are important to all income groups. Each of these trips is different in importance to each retail channel, as reported by Nielsen:

  • Grocery – Immediate trips fell in importance by almost one percent as the channel saw minor gains in fill-in, routine and stock-up trips.
  • Supercenters – Immediate and fill-in trips have gained in importance over the past two years, while routine and stock-up trips declined.
  • Mass merchandisers (excluding supercenters) – Fill-in trips showed slight gains, while all other trip types posted minor declines.
  • Drug – Fill-in and routine trips were up, while immediate trips declined.
  • Warehouse Club – There was an up-tick in immediate trips, but the staple of club stores – routine and stock-up trips declined.
  • Convenience/gas – Immediate trips – the hallmark of this channel – have declined by more than two percent, most likely due to rising gas prices.
  • Dollar – Basket size increased, but the immediate trip type continued to dominate.

One of the phenomena of the recession is how affluents are shopping.  Dollar stores have seen an uptick in affluent shopping.  It seems that everyone is value conscious now.

And the fashion world has begun to adjust as well, assuring folks like me that they will have Spring fashions when Spring has actually has sprung, and swimsuits will still be in the store in summer.






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§ 2 Responses to Marketing to Moms: Just-in-time Shopping Replaces Pantry Loading

  • Hi Jamie, fascinating article. I noticed that my family always had numerous canned goods on hand and the freezer was stocked. I noticed this about other family members and friend’s parents as well. I am 58, so that gives you a timeline.
    In those days pantries were built into the houses and if the house didn’t have a pantry, there were those cute big cabinets out on the back porch to hold the extra. These days there are numerous cupboards, few pantries and we collect cooking gear now instead of food.
    Thanks for your time researching this topic.

    • Jamie Dunham says:

      Hi Sally, I also grew up with the freezer and cabinet on the back porch in Texas. Many of the items in that freezer were out of family gardens, fruit trees, fishing and hunting trips. We actually canned items and prepared other things for the freezer. Now we go to warehouse stores and watch for coupons and sales. I am becoming much more aware of where things are coming from and the seasonality of the food items. Thanks for the read!

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