Changing Face of Grocery Shopper research

The way in which consumers are shopping is changing in a big way. The weekly shop is on decline, and demanding consumer lifestyles are driving an increase in the number of convenience, specialist and independent formats popping up across the country. Shoppers are challenging the retail landscape hard; demanding resonate value, whether that be driven by price, quality or customer experience. So what does this mean for the retailer? And for marketers working with grocery brands, what hurdles do we face when targeting these consumer groups?

Traditional ways of defining consumer groups have become slightly outdated, and no doubt even new forms we look at today will soon become obsolete as shoppers continue to develop their buying habits and mediums of influence. Latest research by consumer lifestyle PR agency Escapade has defined the UK’s grocery shoppers into five key consumer groups that illustrate the state of retail shoppers in 2016.

There are some clear contributory factors that have decimated the traditional grocery market over the past decade, segregating these five audiences into micro consumer groups that each operate in very different ways; spurred by varying lifestyle needs, and influenced by a diverse range of media. The grocery market now accounts for 51.3p in every £1 of all UK retail sales, so understanding your audience, how they play, and implementing the right tactics has never carried so much commercial weight.

The rapid expansion of Lidl and Aldi in the UK means we no longer talk about the “big four”, and the surging popularity of specialist stores such as Whole Foods and Planet Organic in the UK has given the consumer more choice, and easy access to grocery products that appeal to the booming health and wellness market shopper. This has had a knock on effect to major multiple brand loyalty, as very few of us feel “loyal” to Asda over Tesco, for example. Brand loyalty does still exist, but increasingly within these less conventional breakaway groups. Our research shows that 29% of the UK is made up by Intelligent Impulsives and Functional Foodies, who are increasingly demonstrating loyalty to the specialist brands, and nearly a third of the over 55’s market, dubbed the Brand Loyalists that make up 30% of the grocery shoppers, stay loyal to the premium brands like Waitrose and Marks & Spencer.

Interestingly however, although the larger multiples are attracting less loyal customers, Tesco remains the most frequently visited brand by 40% of the entire UK population on a regular basis. This seems to be driven by geographical convenience and price deals. Over 75% of the Price Driver shopper, which makes up 31% of the UK, visit Tesco regularly, with 60% topping up their basket at discount stores to get the best deals. The Meat-iculous Planner has similar shopping habits, however they frequent the likes of Adli and Lidl more regularly, keeping an eye on upcoming deals and offers and planning ahead.

Technology has played an interesting role in the evolution of the grocery market. Online shopping has revolutionised the convenience, however for some audiences, notably 70% of Brand Loyalists, they state that they do not buy groceries online, as they see shopping as a leisurely hobby. In fact, 61% of all shoppers have not shopped online for groceries at all in the past three months at all, suggesting it hasn’t truly become a preferred way of shopping for the majority of us.

What technology has done however, is introduce a new way of budget shopping, with the ever growing presence of couponing and discount sites, as 54% of us regularly these type pf services to help bring down the cost of our grocery shop. This has lent itself to the growing number of people now using online websites (35%) and social media (15%) as their first point of call when researching new products, the best deals and where to buy. Traditional media does still play a part in consumer influence however, particularly broadcast and TV, which is cited as the most popular medium to learn about news products across all groups.

Rhianon Williams, Associate Director at consumer lifestyle PR agency Escapade, said: “We work with a number of grocery brands, from your everyday shelf favourites, right through to the more upcoming specialist and functional products. Getting to grips with the changing face of the grocery market is an ongoing process, as it seems to be evolving at a speed that no one could have predicted. For any successful marketing or PR campaign, you can no longer group “Tesco shoppers” together for example, as consumers are no longer defined by where they shop, but rather what they are shopping for, the frequency that their lifestyle determines they need to shop, and where they can get the most resonate value for the products that fit their lifestyle.

“We are seeing the major multiples face tough competition from the likes of Aldi and Lidl who have established a very sleek “when it’s gone” pre-promotional approach to drive interest. The PR buzz around Aldi’s Lacura Caviar Illumination Day Cream for example caused consumer pandemonium, and that was before it even hit the shelves to inevitably sell out!

“Kantar recently reported a 5% rise in the sale of fresh fruit and vegetable, while fish, poultry and nuts saw similar growth, again with discounters Aldi and Lidl actually demonstrating an accelerated growth of 13.7% and 18.7% in these areas. Will we soon see our Functional Foodies take on a more budget minded approach and ditch their premium brand loyalty? Or maybe our Price Drivers will soon become increasingly more health conscious, in line with the overall increased interest in wellness products and services?

“Convenience too has fast becoming king, with small, specialist and niche brands offering the consumer something slightly different to suit their lifestyle. For the first time since 2011, the Co-op was the fastest growing traditional grocer with a 1.4% rise in sales. It is certainly a disruptive period for grocery marketing, however for creatives and consumer lifestyle pr campaigns, this environment presents itself with opportunity!”

For the full infographic detailing the Changing Face of Grocery Shopper research head over to (PDF, 5.2 MB)

Changing Face of Grocery Shopper research

Changing Face of Grocery Shopper research

Our consumer lifestyle PR team specialise in connecting everyday brands with everyday people across four core sectors: Consumer Lifestyle PRFood & Drink PRConsumer Technology PR and Sport, Health & Wellbeing PR. More information on these areas of knowledge can be found at