IRI Shopper Insights highlight growth in popularity of specialist stores over mass market

A European Shopper Insights Report conducted by IRI, the big data and technology expert for consumer industries, shows that the influence and importance of emerging specialist retail channels, like drug stores, pharmacies* and make-up stores, is growing.

The study of 2,600 consumers across seven European countries reveals that more than a third (39%) of shoppers now visit a drug store, a difference of 18% between 'more frequently' and 'less frequently' compared to two years ago. In addition, 35% of shoppers visit a pharmacy, while around one fifth visit other similar specialist retailers, such as make-up (20%) and perfumery stores (22%).

The report indicates that at a time when many retailers are trying rationalise their product ranges, product range is still the number one key driver for consumers when going to a physical store, with 56% of shoppers choosing a drug store because it offers a wide range of products. A further 52% say they chose a drug store because of convenience and 42% because of the store services available.

Product range is also critical for shoppers when choosing a make-up store, with 59% selecting a store because it offers a wide range of products, while 49% are attracted by in-store services and 34% by quality.

For the report, shoppers were asked to evaluate each retail channel based on a list of features (product range, quality, price/promo, convenience, innovation, shopping experience, location, time to shop, specificity of products) and attribute a relevance to each feature, allowing IRI to create a Customer Satisfaction Index.

According to this Index, make-up, perfumery stores and drug stores all outperform hypermarkets and supermarkets when it comes to customer satisfaction due to the higher level of customer experience that is delivered by specialist stores, aligned with shoppers' expectations. This is especially true for products that require a specific store ambiance or environment, such as in personal care or frozen food.

Laura Fusi, Shopper Insight Senior Manager, IRI: "This a major challenge that manufacturers and mass market retailers need to work out together; identifying the right range, product and brand positioning, as well as pricing strategy, in order to offer a real alternative to these specialized stores whose strengths lie in selling their own brands. Cutting-edge technology can help analyse shopper needs in different geographies and different store types – at the store level – to help drive growth."

According to the report, multi-channel shoppers across Europe visit 2.5 different channels a year, on average, to purchase personal and beauty care products, compared to 1.9 channels for beverages, 1.7 for frozen food and 1.2 for pet food. The Italians top the table when buying personal and beauty care products visiting 3.2 channels per year.

* Pharmacies: stores where you can buy medicines and also some grocery products (eg baby food); Drug stores: stores where you can buy products for household and personal care.

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