Source: Shopper Intelligence

More than a thousand shoppers wore eye-tracking specs in the study

Supermarket shoppers are more than twice as likely to visit an aisle if a gondola end promotion in that category has previously caught their eye, research by Shopper Intelligence shared exclusively with The Grocer reveals. 

Using new technology to analyse the movements and gaze patterns of more than a thousand shoppers wearing video glasses in a typical superstore, the research firm’s data shows that those who saw an aisle end promo were, on average, 2.6 times more likely to visit that same category’s main aisle. 

The so-called ‘advertising effect’ of gondola ends was even higher for many HFSS categories – including chocolate biscuit bars, cereal bars, chocolate bags and crisps. A customer that saw a chocolate biscuit bar on an aisle end was 5.7 times more likely to visit the category in aisle. For chocolate bags the advertising effect was 3.9x, adult yoghurts 3.5x, and crisps 3.3x.

“Whether overtly or subliminally, category presence on gondola ends undoubtedly acts as a sign-post, reminder or prompt for a category visit in the main aisle,” said Shopper Intelligence CEO Roger Jackson. “That’s long been the hypothesis. Until now what actually happens within the overall supermarket trip has been something of a black box for brands – but here now is real-life data confirming it,” he added. 

The findings are significant for brands affected by the coming HFSS rules governing the placement and promotion of foods that are high in fat, sugar and salt. When the regulations come into force in October, locating HFSS products at store entrances, aisle ends and checkouts will no longer be allowed.

The Shopper Intelligence study also found the gondola end advertising effect to be “definitely stronger for unplanned categories”. A recent IGD study found many HFSS-impacted categories had high levels of impulse purchasing. 

“Our research has shown the popularity of gondola ends in driving impulse purchases,” said Rhian Thomas, head of insight at ShopperVista IGD.

Separate research by IRI forecast that losing aisle-end and front of store revenue could cost the biscuit sector £280m, chilled dairy and dessert sector almost £500m and breakfast cereals more than £100m. The new rules would also mean a £791m loss in revenue for the confectionery sector, said IRI. 

Shopper Intelligence also showed that despite the importance of gondola ends, 80% of category purchases where ends were in place were still picked from main aisles’ shelves. However, 19% of  all soft drinks purchases, 12% of crisps and 30% of cereal bars were picked directly from the gondola ends themselves.

“HFSS categories will suffer a double whammy,” said Jackson. “Loss of the specific sales from a gondola end plus the loss of the extra advertising effect.”