Mars and Wrigley rethink impulse strategy for e-commerce age

By Douglas Yu

- Last updated on GMT

Impulse strategies must go beyond bricks and mortar locations as shopper habits evolve, says Mars
Impulse strategies must go beyond bricks and mortar locations as shopper habits evolve, says Mars

Related tags: Online shopping, Retailing, Wrigley

Mars Chocolate and Wrigley have adapted impulse merchandising strategies to fit the modern retail landscape.

“It’s no secret that people don’t shop like they used to, and the traditional mix of impulse items in transaction zones needs to better meet consumer needs,”​ said Kurt Laufer,  vice president of US sales for Wrigley.

Mars Chocolate and Wrigley’s new strategy, “Transaction Zone Vision”, aims to go further than traditional impulse strategies that focus on supermarket and c-store checkout zones.

It says retailers and manufacturers must increase impulse sales across other transactions zones such as mobile purchasing platforms, self-checkouts, e-commerce sites, cafés and pharmacies.

Assess macro trends

Kurt Laufer, VP of US sales for Wrigley, told ConfectioneryNews that in addition to assessing shopper need states, Mars and Wrigley would also base its merchandising recommendations on macro trends such as the growth of snacking and health and wellness.

“By adding in new variables we can merchandise to better address why consumers are purchasing and provide the right products to satisfy their needs,”​ he said.

E-commerce to traditional impulse buy: threat or opportunity?

But Philip Graves, a UK-based consumer behavior consultant, warns emerging channels like e-commerce pose a threat to confectioners because online shopping provides more limited opportunities to put multiple products in the shopper’s “path”​ due to physical limitations of web pages.

Graves added that self-service tills in supermarkets do not generate the same queue potential as manned checkouts.

“Confectionery companies will have less and less opportunity to strengthen impulse buying, because of the increasing scrutiny of high sugar that are likely to see such activities actively avoided by retailers,”​ he told this site.

Meanwhile many UK supermarkets have removed all confectionery, except sugar-free gum, for healthier checkouts​.

E-commerce statistics from Statista state that 40% of worldwide internet users have bought products or goods online via desktop, mobile, table or other online devices. This amounts more than 1bn online buyers and is expected to grow.

Confectionery businesses have also started taking advantage of this e-commerce boom. Mondelēz International has set a target of having as much as $1bn in annual revenue come from e-commerce by 2020.

Hershey is also one confectioner offering fast re-order's for its Ice Breakers brand via Amazon's Dash Button.​ Denise Vivas, Hershey’s e-commerce director for North America, said in a statement that the button is like “having a point of unplanned purchase right around where you need it most.”

However, Graves argued: “The nature of online shopping is more focused and it is far from clear that such impulses can be triggered at anything like the level they have been in traditional retail environments."

Keeping traditional impulse buys strong

Laufer said that while online grocery shopping is growing in popularity, Mars is also weary that about 75% of shoppers do less than 30% of their grocery shopping online.

“So customers who are doing grocery shopping online are also shopping in brick-and-mortar locations,” ​Laufer said. “Even though shopper behavior is changing and shifting towards online, traditional check-out in-store isn’t going away.”

Mars says it is currently still in the early stages of rolling out the Transaction Zone Vision program nationally.

“Our goal is to support as many retail partners as possible,” ​Wrigley and Mars said. “And the Transaction Zone Vision is just the next evolution of our ongoing efforts to drive impulse sales.”

Related topics: R&D, Chocolate, Candy, Mars, E-commerce

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