Trip Management

The Next Big Thing report reveals 62% of consumers rely on quick trips for groceries/meals; major stock-ups account for only 13% off trips.

Englewood Cliffs, N.J. -- Unilever's breakthrough research entitled "Trip Management: The Next Big Thing" (TM: TNBT), reveals how and where people shop and their different needs on different shopping trips like never before. It also shows just how supercenters have changed the way we shop. This first-of-its-kind research will provide retailers with valuable insights to enable them to stay ahead of the curve on consumer shopping behavior.

According to the initial findings, almost two-thirds of all shopping trips (62%) are quick trips, one quarter are fill-in trips while the classic stock-up is becoming more fragmented, accounting for only 13% of trips - a clear indication of a new approach to food shopping in America. Unilever is already using the findings to develop innovative solutions with their retail customers to respond to demanding consumer needs. This is the first in a series of studies on shopping trip motives and behavior commissioned by Unilever.

"Unilever's mission is to add Vitality to life. We meet everyday needs for nutrition, hygiene and personal care with brands that help people feel good, look good and get more out of life," said Michael Polk, Group Vice President Unilever North America and President of U.S. Foods. "Understanding how our consumers are shopping today is critical in building strong businesses together with our customers. This landmark trip management research is an example of the powerful retail activities we are undertaking to help us connect with our consumers and achieve positive sales growth for both our customers’ and our company’s business."

TM:TNBT explains the motivational patterns behind how shoppers use the different retail outlets available to them. It goes beyond other research to reveal why over 200 categories of products get purchased at each kind of outlet on the different types of shopping trips that shoppers take, and in some instances, challenges long held beliefs in retailing.

For example, it points out that 70% of all category level purchase decisions are made before entering the store. By linking the shoppers’ motives on each trip with the retail outlet that is chosen and the specific items purchased, retailers can finally see where the opportunities for retail growth exist. Retailers can understand the types of trips they are getting, the types of trips they are missing and learn what they can do about it.

TM:TNBT also found that shoppers treat each retail channel very differently. When it comes to buying over 200 categories of food and non-food items that can be purchased at a grocery store, some very clear patterns were seen. Shoppers value smaller box stores for very different reasons than the bigger stores, and as a result, they take different kinds of trips to each.

This is critical because the kinds of trips they take determine how much time and money they will spend, as well as which parts of the store will be visited. In fact, the reason why a shopper makes a trip was the single best predictor of store selection and the items that were likely to be purchased. Such knowledge is the basis for developing effective retail solutions. In addition, the study sheds a clear light on the difficult problem of volume stagnation in the center-of-store, and with that insight, Unilever brings some practical solutions.

Leading retailers today ask manufacturers for bigger and better shopper insights. What they really want is retail growth solutions that are grounded in shopper insights. To that end, Unilever is using its insights to deliver actionable solutions to help retailers capture the different types of trips. In each case, knowledge of the reason for the trip, the associated shopping behavior and the retailer’s needs lead to the best growth solutions.

For example, Unilever has created a stand-alone meal solution center combining frozen, fresh/refrigerated and shelf stable meal components, that can be used to help satisfy the consumers’ need for Quick Trips for meals, while at the same time, help to deliver growth for the retailer who is looking to capture more of these kinds of trips.

TM:TNBT is an initiative executed by Unilever North America. The research was conducted in 2004, and data was uniquely collected from over 2400 shoppers in three key geographies where the supercenter either had a large presence, minimal presence and no presence at all. In addition, a panel of almost 900 shoppers carefully described nearly 4500 store visits during a two-week period in personal on-line diaries. Store visits included activity at retail channels such as supercenters, supermarkets, chain drug, convenience stores, mass merchants and wholesale clubs. Margin of error = + 3%.

The key findings of Unilever's TM: TNBT survey will be unveiled at the 2005 Food Marketing Institute Show on May 1-3, in Chicago, Illinois. Unilever is committed to developing this initiative and plans to launch two other TM:TNBT studies in the U.S. later this year - one focused on home and personal care and the other on Hispanic shoppers.

Unilever United States, Inc.

Unilever US, Inc
800 Sylvan Avenue
Englewood Cliffs
NJ 07632

+1 201 894 7760

Explore more on these topics:

Back to top


We're always looking to connect with those who share an interest in a sustainable future.


Get in touch with Unilever and specialist teams in our headquarters or find contacts around the world.

Contact us