NPD: Most U.S. households make majority of purchasing decisions before entering grocery store and rarely buy on impulse; 94% prepare written shopping list, 72% never or only occasionally deviate from list

CHICAGO , September 13, 2010 (press release) – Before they ever enter a grocery store, most U.S. households have already made the majority of their purchasing decisions, and rarely buy on impulse, according to a recent report by The NPD Group, a leading market research company. The food and beverage market research report finds that 94 percent of U.S. households prepare a written shopping list prior to grocery shopping, and 72 percent of shoppers never or only occasionally buy items not on the list.

The NPD report, entitled Before the Store, which takes a holistic view of the grocery shopper from meal preparation, eating behavior, menu planning to shopping, also found that in most households there is one person with the responsibility for food and beverage shopping, and one person responsible for meal preparation –and most of the time that person is a woman.

Although the woman of the household tends to have the primary responsibility of grocery shopping and meal planning, the grocery list preparation appears to be a family affair. Sixty percent of married and family households report contributions from other family members. Among younger households, a spouse is more likely to contribute to the household shopping list when kids are not present; whereas children provide input to the shopping list in nearly 40% of family households.

“For food and beverage manufacturers and retailers, it’s all about getting on the list,” says Ann Hanson, executive director of product development and author of the report.

“With so many purchasing decisions being made at home where meals are being planned and shopping lists assembled, it’s important to focus on the consumer at home before they leave for the store.”

NPD’s National Eating Trends, which continually tracks all aspects of Americans’ eating behaviors, shows that most U.S. consumers (81%) eat dinner at home, and according to Before the Store most households plan these meals in advance.

As for purchasing items not on the list, according to the Before the Store report, while most shoppers don’t purchase unplanned items while in the store, approximately one in four primary grocery shoppers are more impulse driven while grocery shopping. The top reasons for an impulse purchase are: saw it on promotion (80 percent) saw it in the store and remembered it was needed (67 percent), and looked like a good meal or snack solution (37 percent).

Top Reasons for Impulse Purchases
80%
saw it on promotion
67%
saw it in the store and remembered it was needed
37%
looked like a good meal/snack solution

Source: The NPD Group/Before the Store report/Shopping Habits and Planning Survey

“While most grocery shoppers shop for their food items around once a week, consumers decide what to eat, drink, or serve many times a day,” says Ann Hanson, director of product development and author of the study. “It’s these daily activities, and the needs behind them, that drive their purchase decisions.

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