A Hartman Group survey finds that most people don’t prepare a shopping list in advance, whether on a piece of paper or on a mobile device. The highest usage was for grocery shopping, where 44% of survey respondents said they always make a list. Only 18% of dollar store shoppers prepared a list.
The difference is probably because dollar store shoppers are less sure of what will be available at the store. Yet with the grocery shoppers, too, consumers aren’t beholden to a list. In the Hartman survey, only about 35% of the list-makers stick to what’s on their list. Researchers at University of Pittsburgh and Baylor University say that about 75% of shoppers expect to come across both needs they’d forgotten to include on their shopping lists and items they wouldn’t realize they wanted until the items were in front of them or in their hands.
Researchers at Duke University, University of California-Los Angeles, and University of Florida found that people who carry around the store shopping lists they created in advance—the consumer trying to remember what they need and what the store carries—end up more likely to make purchases they will later regret. Making the list leaves less mental energy left to resist the foolish items.
How to have shopping lists work to benefit your customers? Encourage them to make what the researchers call “stimulus-based shopping lists,” which require less mental energy. Give them tools to look at what they have on their shelves and in the cabinets before coming to your store.
- In your advertising pieces, include a checklist the customer can use at home while surveying their supplies, and then carry the list with them as they shop. Have copies of the checklist available in the store.
- Cook up recipes, suggesting combinations of foods or wardrobe items that fit well together. Prod the shopper to recognize that when they buy the beer, they’ll want the chips and when they buy the paint, they’ll want the primer. You’ll serve as their memory.
- Leave blank lines on the shopping lists. This allows the customer to improvise beyond the rigidity of a list. Departing from the preplanning makes great sense for both you and the shopper when you’re offering surprise in-store specials.
Encourage Stimulus-Based Shopping Lists
Increase Repeat Customers’ Unplanned Buying