Does Shopping Preparation influence Consumer Buying Decisions?

  •  Silvia Bellini    
  •  Maria Cardinali    
  •  Benedetta Grandi    


Changes in consumers’ environment, specifically the economic crisis and the growing penetration of digital technologies, have produced significant changes in shopping habits, designed to gradually reduced the effectiveness of in-store marketing levers in influencing shopping behaviour. On one hand, due to the global economic downturn and the associated diminished disposable income, more shoppers are now searching more information before entering a store and evaluating more alternatives before to decide where and what to shop. On the other hand, the deep penetration of technological developments, such as digital media and mobile devices, among the population, has opened up new opportunities to influence shopper attitudes and behaviour in the retail environment. A new scenario seems to be opening up where more planning and preparation for shopping is carried out before customers entering the store. In this new environment, to formulate and execute effective shopper marketing strategies, managers need to better understand the complete picture of how online, offline, mobile and in-store marketing influence shoppers in the path-to-purchase-and-beyond cycle. Starting from recent research avenues, our work intends to explore the relationship between pre-shopping behaviour and shopping behaviour in-store, with the aim to understand how pre-trip activities have influenced shopping behaviour in-store. In order to get this purpose, we conducted a survey in three stores belonging to a leading Italian grocery retailer. Shoppers were intercepted in front of the display, when the chosen product was placed in the shopping cart. Through a structured questionnaire, respondents were asked about the nature of the purchase (planned vs unplanned) and the degree of out-of-store preparation (number and type of activity carried out). Data were processed using SPSS statistical software. The degree of grocery shopping preparation is found to influence shopper behaviour inside the store in terms of planned/impulse buying: the higher is the degree of preparation, the greater is the tendency to plan purchases and the lower is the tendency to make impulse purchases. Our findings could suggest retailers and manufacturers new ways to innovate the practice of shopper marketing, considering that marketing levers cannot still affect consumers’ decisions in-store as in the past.

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