If variety is the spice of life why are we such creatures of habit in the grocery store?

Food retailers and suppliers spend a lot of resources to develop and introduce new

products. A 50,000 sq ft store can carry as many as 30,000 skus. That is incredible

selection all under one roof. Recently I was very surprised to read some statistics on

the Catalina Marketing website (www.catalinamarketing,com). Catalina Marketing is

a company based in Florida who specialize in consumer insights and POS programs

for retailers and consumer packaged goods companies. They are a reputable

company with considerable resources for research.


In the study “Engaging the selective shopper”, they revealed how challenging it is

to get consumers to pick up a product in the store. In research that analyzed the

purchase behavior of more than 32 million shoppers in the US spending $55 billion,

they determined the average household only purchases 260 different products in

a food store during the entire year! In the stores they included, the average store

offered over 35,000 skus and the average household purchased only 260.

We are definitely creatures of habit!


This is food for thought for suppliers and retailers. This illustrates just how difficult

it is to get people to try a new item or venture into a new category. I have been

looking in our own cart recently and I believe we would drive the average up but not

much. I have been challenging myself to look for new items and try some different



There has to be a real partnership between the supplier and the retailer to make

new items successful. A comprehensive program needs to be in place and this can

get very expensive. I believe retailers need to recognize just how challenging this is

and put some different plans and programs in place to work with suppliers to make

new items more successful. If the items can get in to the shopping cart it is a win for

both the retailer and the supplier. There are huge up front costs to development,

production and marketing. I would like to see a progressive retailer take this on as

a project and determine if 260 could be 300. Assuming the products are good that

should be a satisfied shopper.