Making a list and checking it twice

Most U.S. households make the majority of their purchasing decisions before they go to the grocery store, and rarely buy on impulse, according to Before the Store, a recent report by The NPD Group. Some 94 percent of U.S. households prepare a written shopping list prior to grocery shopping, and 72 percent of shoppers never or only occasionally buy items not on the list.

In most households there is one person with the responsibility for food and beverage shopping, and one person responsible for meal preparation –and most of the time that person is a woman. But preparing a grocery list appears to be a family affair. Sixty percent of married and family households report contributions from other family members. Among younger households, a spouse is more likely to contribute to the shopping list when kids are not present; whereas children provide input to the shopping list in nearly 40 percent of family households.


As for purchasing items not on the list, while most shoppers don’t purchase unplanned items while in the store, approximately one in four primary grocery shoppers are more impulse driven while grocery shopping. The top reasons for an impulse purchase are: saw it on promotion (80 percent) saw it in the store and remembered it was needed (67 percent), and looked like a good meal or snack solution (37 percent).

“For food and beverage manufacturers and retailers, it’s all about getting on the list,” says Ann Hanson, executive director of product development and author of the report. “With so many purchasing decisions being made at home where meals are being planned and shopping lists assembled, it’s important to focus on the consumer at home before they leave for the store.”