How Well Do You Know Shoppers?

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How Well Do You Know Shoppers?

In order to understand how to make an impact on shoppers, you need to know how they buy. For instance, 35% of all purchases are made on impulse, whereas ‘Grab & Go’ accounts for 50% of grocery purchases alone.

It’s good to know these things, but it’s more important to know how to use the information. Everyone shops for typical items that they need on an ongoing basis, such as groceries or confectionery, but sometimes we need to go shopping for ‘occasional’ items like a new car or a television, or even something less expensive like a birthday card.

What is interesting, it that while we shop for all our needs (whether ongoing or occasional, luxury or mundane), there aren’t all that many differences in how we shop. In actual fact, there are only 5 shopping modes, and we experience all 5 depending on our shopping ventures.

Mode 1: The Inexperienced Shopper

The Inexperienced Shopper wants information. To the observer, they appear uncertain as they slowly and methodically inspect their items. It’s difficult for them to maintain concentration, and it doesn’t take much for them to become distracted and walk away from the shelf.

Mode 2: The Experiential Shopper

The Experiential Shopper experiences the item as much as possible in-store. They don’t just look at it, they smell it, touch it, lift it…. If you asked them what they are expecting by using as many senses as possible to make their selection, they couldn’t tell you. They know when they know what to buy but they don’t know what the trigger for the decision to buy really is.

Mode 3: The Considered Shopper

The Considered Shopper considers all available alternatives and needs time and space in the aisle to reach a final decision before purchase. They consider the brand, special offers available and any variations of the product before making their mind up. (“Should I get lemon scented or vanilla scented air freshener…?”)

Mode 4: The ‘Grab & Go’ Shopper

‘Grab & Go’ Shoppers may look like shoppers, but they aren’t actually shopping, they are doing a chore – restocking their kitchen cupboards. They barely even notice any alternatives to the products they usually get, and so the only way to get their attention is to have their item unavailable. Without some sort of disruption, they are unlikely to change their shopping habits and items in their basket.

Mode 5: The Impulse Shopper

The Impulse Shopper may not even be planning on buying anything, but when a particular product grabs their attention at fixture, they act on impulse to make a purchase with a quick, almost unthinking decision.

So there you have it, the 5 modes, and they are very much determined by category – not by person. Think about how you shop. You ‘Grab & Go’ with your milk, experience the new shower gel, read the label (and reviews) on a new appliance, look at whole ranges of washing powder and snap up a magazine on impulse at the checkout.


For a more in-depth insight into each one, read our article on Shopper Modes here, which includes examples and video’s of each one in action, or in Shoppology: The Science of Shopping, there is a complete chapter devoted to shopping modes that can help in the understanding of how to meet the individual shopping modes in-store.

I’m Phillip Adcock, author of ‘Shoppology, The Science of Supermarket Shopping’, and Managing Director of Shopping Behaviour Xplained Ltd (SBXL) – a company that specialises in analysing shoppers and shopping for some of the leading brands and retailers in the world. If you would like to find out more, contact me on: 07960 109 876 or via email: