The emotional holiday shopper and 4 ways grocery retailers can take advantage

Beyond the seasonal hunt for the perfect present, the average holiday supermarket shopper goes through a remarkable transformation. People who have been shopping on autopilot, buying the same products habitually week-in and week-out suddenly change their behavior and their preferences.

The archetypal "stock up" grocery shopper is (and always has been) mom. As the gatekeeper for the house, she decides how the grocery budget is allocated and what brands are bought. However, the holidays are a unique time of year, and a number of emotional and rational drivers get dialed up to the maximum, influencing almost every one of her shopping choices:

1. She buys in bulk
As hostess, she stocks the cupboards to the brim with all the staples. The opportunity cost of running out of dishwasher gel on Christmas afternoon is way too much to risk. So she buys two packets just to be safe. Actually, make that three.

2. She trades up in quality
She might be tight with her pennies for the rest of the year, but this is Christmas. No private brands on the table at breakfast, and heaven forbid there are the cheaper cold-cuts in the fridge when Uncle Henry and the boys come over to watch the the big game 

This might be as extreme as completely changing her retailer. Loyal to Walmart all year? The holidays can mean a special trip to Whole Foods for the really good stuff. Despite budgets being tight, the marginal difference in costs seem easy to justify considering the total household outlay on booze, PlayStations, and toys.

3. She plans…but
Just like Santa, she makes a big list, putting much more thought into this shop than most throughout the rest of the year. But like any shopper mission, she still has a significant discretionary budget and will be more impulsive than usual.

4. She shops emotionally
The holidays are about children and bringing her family together. Her nesting emotions are heightened, and she is subconsciously more generous and sensitive. She spends 11 months of the year seeking value or products with strong rational claims, but at Christmas, if a retailer can amplify the brand cues around family, children, tradition or love and you’ve got a great chance of making it into her basket.

From our Charlotte marketing agency to your brands, have a safe, relaxing holiday!

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