FRANKLIN, Tenn. — It's no surprise that impulse items catch the eye of shoppers more frequently in staffed lanes than in self-checkout environments, where idle time is cut short by the task at hand.
Although the gap in these sales is still significant, a new study from IHL Consulting Group shows that it's narrowed substantially in the past year.
Findings from the North American Self-Checkout Systems study indicate that, on average, impulse purchases made by women drop by 32.1% at the self-checkout lane, when compared to those made in a staffed environment. At 16.7%, the drop in men's impulse purchases isn't as dramatic.
Still, both are a far cry from the 50% reduction indicated by survey participants last year. The advancement is the result of better merchandising at self-checkout, says IHL Consulting President Greg Buzek.
“There has clearly been an improvement this year,” he said.
Due to spatial issues and the nature of self-checkout transactions, these areas are sometimes poorly merchandised, if at all.
He attributes the upswing to industry studies such as the best practices gleaned from a CMG Consulting analysis of self-checkouts in eight Supervalu locations. It offered suggestions for developing the most effective strategies at or near three different types of self-checkout lanes. The findings were presented at the Food Marketing Institute's show in May.
Still evident in this year's study is the gender disparity related to the frequency with which impulse purchases are made.
On average, women buy impulse items 24% more often than men at a staffed checkout lane, and 6% more often than men at a self-checkout lane.
“I think this has to do with how often woman use self-checkout vs. a staffed lane,” said Buzek. “Women do most of the shopping and tend to have more items, so they're less likely to use a self-checkout lane. As such, they're more often in a situation where they have nothing to do while they're waiting.”
The study did not delineate the impact a child accompanying a shopper might have on these purchases.
It did, however, determine that the average woman can lose over four pounds a year simply by resisting impulse items at checkout lanes, while the average man stands to lose over three from this practice.
Women under the age of 25 — the group representing the most prolific impulse buyers — consume enough calories through impulse purchases to account for six pounds a year. Meanwhile, men under 25 consume enough impulse items for a gain of eight pounds.
“Consumers who are under the age of 25 are far more likely to choose an impulse item,” noted Buzek. “It has to do with tastes and being more susceptible to marketing.”
Due to their faster metabolism, younger consumers are also less likely to be battling obesity.
The study also presented information about the specific brands most likely to appeal to shoppers who responded that they “really like” self-checkout.
When presented with five candy category choices, 36% of these respondents deemed M&Ms their favorite. Thirty percent of self-checkout fans said they were partial to Doritos when asked to choose from five brands of salty snacks.
At 41%, unflavored bottled water was the top beverage choice by members of the group, and at 21% each, Altoids and Trident were the most popular choices in the candy/mints category.
“Retailers better make sure that they have these brands at self-checkout, because those are the items that its heaviest users will navigate to first,” said Buzek.
There are also merchandising lessons to be learned from shoppers who don't like the self-checkout process.
The study found that members of this group purchase salty snacks 47% more often than those who like self-checkout. They also purchase chocolate candy 45% more often, other candy 34% more often, magazines 21% more often and soda or water 8% more often than shoppers who like self-checkout.
Brand combination preferences were also identified.
Respondents who are partial to Dr. Pepper buy Altoids 71% more often than any other gum/mints, and Duracell batteries 43% more often than any other batteries. Meanwhile, respondents who drink Diet Dr. Pepper report buying M&Ms 42% more often than any other candy.
Those who prefer Baby Ruth candy bars buy Dentyne gum 67% more often than any other gum/mint, Duracell batteries 47% more often than any other battery and Doritos 37% more often than any other salty snack. Those who prefer Reese's Peanut Butter Cups buy Doritos 39% more than any other salty snack.
The report is based on a survey of more than 1,000 Internet respondents, 98% of whom have used self-checkout. Almost half (44%) said they really liked these lanes, and 9% said they will not use the technology. Ninety-one percent of respondents said they will use self-checkout even if they don't necessarily like it.
Shoppers who use self-checkout are partial to the following products and brands:
|Beverage||Unflavored bottled |
|Chocolate Candy||M&Ms (36%)|
|Salty Snacks||Doritos (30%)|
|Gum/Mints||Altoids and Trident |
|* Of respondents who “really like” self-checkout, percentage that deemed this brand their favorite when presented with five category choices. |
Source: IHL Consulting Group
Product Preferences of People Who Don't Like Self-Checkout
Those who don't like self-checkout purchase:
- Salty snacks 47% more often than those who like self-checkout
- Chocolate candy 45% more often than those who like self-checkout
- Other candy 34% more often than those who like self-checkout
- Magazines 21% more often than those who like self-checkout
- Soda or water 8% more than those who like self-checkout
Source: IHL Consulting Group