up button image
Industry Innovation

New Platform to Stimulate Impulse Buying

Mars Wrigley Platform Works with Retailers to Grow Impulse Purchases Online, In-Store and Curbside

Very impulsive shoppers

ith the innovation of technology and rapidly changing consumer buying habits, brands across the globe are rethinking the way they market their products in convenience stores and retail spaces.  The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this change.  Strategies that were once tested and proven to work are no longer effective.

With more consumers than ever using self-checkout, curbside pickup, and grocery delivery apps like Instacart, some brands are paying the price.  This is especially true for confectionary manufacturers who rely upon traditional methods to drive sales through impulse purchases.  Research by AC Nielsen estimates that these changes will cost confectionery manufacturers $2 billion in sales.  

Companies are learning to adapt in order to maintain strong connections to their customers.  Mars Wrigley is one company that is leading the way through their innovative Accelerating Impulse Moments (AIM) program.

Understanding the Power of Impulse Buying

Impulse buying occurs when a consumer makes an unplanned purchase.  For example, a customer goes into a store to pick up a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread.  They see a sign for a new coffee maker that is 50 percent off and decide to make the purchase because it’s such a good deal.  While the consumer didn’t go into the store with the intention to purchase a new coffee maker, the coffee maker manufacturer benefited from the buyer deciding on the spot to make the purchase.  

Some products, like candy bars, rely heavily on impulse purchases to drive their sales.  People don’t typically make a trip to the store just to buy a candy bar.  Usually, they go to purchase other items and just happen to add a candy bar to their basket as a treat.  For convenience stores, candy is the number one impulse purchase making up nearly 3 percent of in-store sales and makes up over 4 percent of total gross margins.

Other Interesting Stats about Impulse Buying:

Traditional Strategies to Encourage Impulse Buying

For years, retailers and convenience stores have relied upon many strategies that have been traditionally effective at driving impulse purchases.  

  • Product Placement – Stores will often place inexpensive products near checkouts to encourage customers to make a last-minute addition to their order.  Each year, products placed near checkouts generate about $5.5 billion in sales.
  • Price Contrasts – Placing cheap versions of products next to their more expensive counterparts will encourage a purchase because it is quickly identified as a good deal.  Studies have shown that 88 percent of impulse buys are affected by the perception of lower prices.
  • Signage – High levels of buyer stimulation can improve the chances of an impulse purchase.  This is why you often see advertisements for on-sale products posted in the windows of convenience stores.  
  • Sales and Promotions – Special offers such as BOGO (buy one, get one free), limited time products, and bulk savings can help push consumers to purchase a product.  
  • Shopping Environment – Impulse purchases can come as a result of the shopper’s experience while in the store.  Things like music, scents, and store layout can improve sales.  The more time a consumer spends in a store, the more likely they are to make an unplanned purchase.  

Mars Wrigley Rolls Out Innovative Technology to Improve Impulse Buying

Mars Wrigley has been a market leader in the gum and candy space for over a hundred years.  They’ve had to overcome many challenges along the way.  The company realized that changes to consumer habits in retail markets needed a new approach.  So, in 2019, they launched their Accelerating Impulse Moments (AIM) platform in a test market in De Moines, IA.

The AIM platform is designed to enhance their consumers’ shopping experience and drive impulse purchases across all environments from in-store visits to curbside pickup to online sales.  The platform consists of four main strategies:

  • Snack Aisle Optimization – Rethinking the way snack aisles are organized including layout and product placement.
  • Secondary Display Growth – Expanding the use of secondary displays such as endcaps and POP (point of purchase) displays.  
  • Transaction Zone Reinvention – Redefining the transaction zone strategy, especially as it relates to web-based and online purchase points.  
  • Digital Solutions Execution – Enhancing the impact and effectiveness of digital tools and advertisements.

To help support their Digital Solutions Execution strategy, Mars Wrigley has also deployed a new tool to analyze and evaluate 150 different emotional and behavioral responses to digital ads.  This tool is called Agile Creative Enterprise (or ACE) and utilizes artificial intelligence to evaluate the results of EEG, biometric, and eye movement measurements to determine the effectiveness of digital ads and promotions.  ACE then provides a rating based on the consumers emotional response to the advertisement.  In 2020 alone, ACE was used to evaluate about 450 pieces of content.  

“We are firm believes that emotional responses drive brand recognition and memory structures, and we wanted to understand how consumers behave and how they think, both consciously and unconsciously.  But we’re also very focused on sales and ACE is helping us with that.”  Sorin Patilinet, Global Marketing Insights Director, Mars

The Future of Technology-Based Solutions to Track Consumer Behavior

Mars Wrigley’s AIM platform is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to using technology-based solutions to better understand and enhance the customer experience.  

In the past, companies needed to rely on tracking inventory and sales data to identify if their strategies were effective.  With technology and artificial intelligence, companies can now monitor behaviors throughout the entire experience.  This is becoming easier since more and more purchase are done in the digital space where activities are easier to monitor and track.  

The best part is that this these types of systems are becoming more readily available for small convenience store and retail operators.  Many inventory and sales platforms that operators already use have tools and programs available to provide customer insight reporting and metrics.   This is helping to level the playing field that was once dominated by massive brands and retail chains.

August 29, 2021