The once highly competitive fight for front-end real estate is becoming a non-issue."

Manufacturers of impulse goods like gum, candy, batteries, single-serve drinks, snacks and magazines are facing challenging times as grocery retailers address the rise of online shopping, the need for greater operational efficiency and new in-store technologies, and consumer demands for more convenience.

Self- and unmanned checkouts. Mobile purchasing. Buy online and pick up in store. One-hour delivery. Retail technology and new shopping options are jeopardizing traditional impulse purchase opportunities.

The once highly competitive fight for front-end real estate is becoming a non-issue. Impulse sales at the checkout are not just threatened, they’re nearing extinction. The struggle is real.

But all is not lost. It’s time to move from the familiar to the unknown, to uncover new potential for impulse purchases and create new spaces and places for impulse to thrive.

PlanetRetail’s “Rethinking Front of Store” report lays out a number of opportunities for impulse players to explore:

Think Solutions: Adjacency Merchandising

Don’t be single-minded; think about where impulse goods complete a solution. Gravity feed racks, for example, bring carbonated soft drinks near salty snacks. Adjacent merchandising also has legs in prepared and grab-and-go foods, where individual prepared meals, deli sandwiches and salads do the heavy lifting and candy or beverages can round out the purchase. Table-top displays and small-scale shippers could be beneficial here, too.

Think Location: New Engagement

With retailers from Walmart to H-E-B expanding the number of curbside pick-up locations, manufacturers need to consider these spaces as potential opportunities for impulse merchandising. Current testing with vending kiosks and on-demand candy dispensers from PepsiCo and Hershey show promise.

Think Personalized: Just for You

Mobile push notifications to shoppers as they enter a store and prompts during online checkout can act as individual reminders of previous purchases and drive repeat sales.

Product samples or high-value offers based on previous and current purchases, both in the store or online, could act as triggers to buy now and buy again. Consider Amazon’s Prime Samples, which allows registrants to purchase samples and receive credits for that purchase against future full-size items.

Traditional impulse items still have a place in consumers’ minds. But changes in the way consumers shop for them are creating a disturbance in brick-and-mortar and digital aisles. The time is now for manufacturers and retailers to shape their own futures and embrace transformation with a renewed sense of optimism founded in exploring new spaces and places they can deliver enhanced value and move toward sales growth through impulse purchases.

Elizabeth Fogerty
Strategy Lead
Advantage Unified Commerce, Advantage Solutions

Liz Fogerty is a 25-year advertising and marketing veteran who has spent the past 16 years focusing her attention and expertise on advising consumer packaged goods makers on how to win at retail.

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