The biscuit and cake section is a regular destination for shoppers, and purchases are mainly influenced by price, taste, the meal occasion and health.

Biscuits are a planned staple in many shoppers' trolleys, with 32% buying them at least once a fortnight and 63% buying them once a week or more. Seventy-nine per cent of shoppers visit the supermarket with the intention of buying them.

A similar number buy cakes at least every fortnight, but 60% of shoppers purchase them on impulse. Treating is more common in cakes, with 80% of shoppers treating themselves.

Cakes are also bought for the family, with some shoppers preferring individually wrapped cakes that are handy for eating on the go or as a snack to put in children's lunchboxes.

Biscuits are less of a treat than cakes and are bought for a number of different people: self, family and children. These groups influence the selections made and the shopper usually buys a specific type of product because another family member likes it. Where biscuits are viewed as a treat, chocolate tends to be one of the favourite ingredients.

Shoppers give priority to promotions and price when buying biscuits, and are not particularly brand loyal. Eighty per cent buy different or own label brands, 79% would change to brands on offer, and 70% would buy another brand if their first choice weren't available.

Cake purchasers are also influenced by offers - 78% will switch to a branded product on offer and 95% will buy own label, citing packaging as the main difference.

When buying cakes, in particular, health is a concern, with some people opting for low-fat brands.

However, people are cynical about healthy ingredients, saying low-fat products are normally high in salt anyway.

Eighty-nine per cent of shoppers say biscuit displays are not eye-catching enough, which means they make regular purchases rather than try new things. Forty per cent of shoppers say the cake displays are slightly more attractive.n