CHICAGO -- A year since it announced its Transaction Zone Vision, Wrigley and Mars Chocolate said they are seeing positive results in higher sales and increased shopper engagement in tests with more than a dozen retailers across channels, including convenience retailers. Wrigley and Mars said they will expand the work in 2017 and continue to invest in U.S. and global research to further understand shopper behavior.
Wrigley and Mars are focusing on the customer need state, and have coined the phrase "Refresh, Reward and Remind" to describe the opportunities for merchandising.
"These needs drive why the shopper is purchasing at checkout," Tiffany Menyhart, director of U.S. category management for Chicago-based Wrigley, told CSP Daily News.
"In our global research, which examined the emotional journey consumers make during their shopping experience, we found that checkout represents the emotional low," she said. "There’s an opportunity for retailers to help bring their shoppers back to an emotional equilibrium by better meeting the three need states."
Armed with these findings, Menyhart said Wrigley and Mars determined what and how many products should be stocked where transactions are taking place and developed tools to create customized solutions for partners in different channels.
One tool, the Shopper Decision Tree, was created specifically for convenience stores, she said. It helps retailers shelve products based on how shoppers think of a category.
"For example, shoppers looking for fun gum, such as Juicy Fruit with Starburst flavors, may also be looking for fruity gum and shelving these products together helps them easily find the products they want," Menyhart said.
Using this model, Wrigley and Mars Chocolate created suggested plan-o-grams that incorporate three key areas of insights—flavor zones, power brands and usage occasions—that all work together with the Shopper Decision Tree to help individual retailers strategically merchandise their shelves.
Initial testing showed that the plan-o-gram generated a 4% to 6% sales lift across the more than 18,000 convenience stores that implemented it. Wrigley and Mars will not reveal their convenience-channel partner, but they provided results from Jewel-Osco.
Jeff Hancock, assistant sales manager for candy at Jewel-Osco, said the drug-store chain is working with Wrigley to understand shopper behavior in the queue and how to best merchandise to drive conversion.
Menyhart said choice and variety are key when looking at what products perform well in the Transaction Zone because each shopper has a different need when they’re ready to check out.
"Better-for-you products are one part of the total Transaction Zone because there isn’t one need that’s more prevalent than another. Those looking to refresh tend to gravitate towards the better-for-you products, such as beverages, snack bars, gum and mints," she said. Others looking to reward themselves may grab chocolate or fruit-flavored candy.
"Ensuring an equal product mix to address each shoppers’ need will help retailers maximize incremental sales," Menyhart said.
Wrigley and Mars Chocolate, which recently announced its intent to combine the two segments to create Mars Wrigley Confectionery with headquarters in Chicago, continue to invest in global research to develop relevant insights retailers can apply across transaction zones. The companies said the next phase of research is currently being tested in the United States, but they would not reveal details.
“Our goal is to tie the shopper insights to the retailer’s specific strategy," said Shaf Lalani, vice president of customer experience for Mars Chocolate North America, based in McLean, Va. "We look forward to launching additional findings as we move into 2017.”
In measuring the success of its Transaction Zone Vision, Menyhart said a key metric is increased conversions in the Transaction Zone, or bringing in new shoppers and returning previous shoppers to the categories.
“We know as industry leaders in front-end merchandising that we have to invest in insights that help our retail partners build their baskets and leave a lasting positive impression on their shoppers. By investing in the Transaction Zone Vision, we have provided our retailers a framework that guides them in how best to satisfy their shoppers’ needs by offering choices,” Menyhart said.