Digitally Disrupting the Habitual Shopping Routine

Digitally Disrupting the Habitual Shopping Routine

Today’s shoppers are time-starved and overwhelmed with information. And as a result, many tend to run on autopilot as they cruise the aisles during their routine shopping trips. This can leave brands feeling unable to have a meaningful influence on purchase decisions at the shelf. Thankfully, however, technology allows brands to create engaging and personalized experiences that can disrupt habitual shopping routines. So how should brands and retailers use digital media to grab shoppers’ attention and influence purchasing?

According to Nielsen research, about half of brand purchases are not driven by a need to replenish. This provides marketers with a key opportunity to influence purchase decision before consumers get in the store. Digital mediums can play a significant role in influencing brand purchase decisions, particularly when consumers are planning their shopping trips. Among non-replenish-driven purchases, Nielsen research has found that shoppers recall using pre-store online resources about 7% of the time, which is more frequent than levels for recommendations and advertising. While coupons are the top pre-store brand purchase influencer, digital drives how shoppers obtain coupons. In fact, consumers get more than 40% of the coupons they use for brand purchases from websites (30%) and email/mobile apps (11%).

While digital engagement pre-store plays a notable role in the path to purchase, it’s still forging a path at the in-store level. Today, in-store mobile use is still relatively low and is a growth opportunity for brands.

What Influences Brand Decisions Before Shopping
(excluding replenish-driven purchases) 

Influencer Percent
Coupon 15%
Promotion 14%
Request* 8%
Digital¶ 7%
Recommendation§ 5%
Advertising (print, broadcast and digital) 3%
*Requested by individual in the household
¶I heard about on social media + researched on social media + looked on retailer website + looked at brand manufacturer website + looked at coupon website + used mobile
§I heard through word of mouth + someone recommended it + a vet recommended it + a doctor recommended / prescribed it.
Source: Nielsen

Before they hit the stores, shoppers leverage an array of online resources to give themselves a leg up when they get to the shelves. The most common resources are coupon sites and retailer websites. What are they looking for? Deals and trip planning tools.

But not all categories are equal when it comes to digital influence. Brands in personal care, infant care and nutritional categories have the highest pre-store digital engagement levels. Social media plays a big role among these digitally influenced brand purchases, but it’s not the only digital forum that matters.

Pre-store Digital Engagement

Product/Category Index to Average Sites Most Often Leveraged
Nutritional Drinks / Shakes 323 Social Media
Sports Nutrition / Protein Supplements 302 Social Media, Brand/Manufacturer Site
Sun care 287 Social Media, Coupon Site
Women’s Shaving Products (razors & creams) 281 All
Baby Wipes & Diapers 281 Coupon Site
Cosmetics 272 Social Media
Baby Food Health 249 All
Baby Formula 247 Social Media
Frozen Desserts & Bakery 234 All
Men’s Shaving Products (razors & creams) 232 Coupon Site, Retailer Site
Source: Nielsen

Brands and marketers looking to capitalize by engaging with shoppers that are digitally engaged, delivering relevant and personalized content is paramount. It’s also critical to know what works for your category.


Category Shopping Fundamentals is a robust study that examines what influences purchase decision along the shopper path, both pre-store and in-store, for 100+ CPG Food and Non-Food categories.

  • Provides insight on shopper behavior on Category Planning, Trip Impact, Store Choice, Decision Making Autonomy, Shopper Engagement & In-Store Purchase Influencers
  • Unique integration of attitudinal drivers with actual CPG purchase behavior from the Homescan purchase panel
  • Quantitative study, capturing 45,000+ purchases among 18,000+ respondents