Smart, strategic promotional offers can provide perceived value to the consumer and ensure CPGs and c-stores see a return on their investment.

Even though some states are reopening, many consumers are still taking a wait and see approach to getting on with life as we used to know it. Shopping habits have likely been changed forever. Consumers are shopping less but more in bulk and, neighborhood c-stores have become the go-to place for shoppers seeking out consumer packaged goods and other important items.

According to recent consumer behavior reports powered by PDI Insights Cloud, consumer shopping habits, whether in big-box stores or even in c-stores, have transitioned from immediate to future consumption items. This means when consumers head out of their homes to shop, it is no longer just to “pick something up,” but it is a mission to stock up on food and other non-perishable items.

During these times, how are CPG brands working with c-stores to entice once-regular customers to buy more? One way to increase basket size and also increase trips is to consider offering promotions to consumers. Smart, strategic promotional offers can have the dual effect of providing perceived value to the consumer and ensuring CPGs and c-stores see a return on their investment.

Here are some things to consider if you are offering promotions.

  1. Make sure transactions are personal: The latest monthly report from PDI and NACS on how COVID-19 is impacting consumer behavior shows that there is a year-over-year decline in trips to the store. Since there are fewer shoppers, personal  promotion to a consumer can ensure that brand dollars are allocated to certain loyal shoppers and not to a “mass market” shopper, who perhaps, will never utilize the promotion. It also guarantees that your brand only spends when products are purchased. For PDI Offer Network, we invoice based on actual promotion sales, so the risk is aligned with performance. CPG brands don’t have to worry if the items are distributed because they are not paying a fixed cost or per store fee for the entire network.
  2. Create single transaction rewards: Since customers are making fewer trips, but buying more, single transaction offers are more important. An offer that requires multiple trips (buy 5, earn 100 points) is less enticing because the consumer knows it will take them a while to reach 5. Instead, do buy 2, earn 20 points, where the consumer will buy smaller amounts in a single transaction. Or how about some of these promotion examples: Buy any 2 Single or Share Size M&M’s® Candy Messages, earn 5 cents per gallon, or Buy any 2 Snapple® 16oz and earn 5 cents per gallon, or Buy any 1 Gatorade Super Shake and earn 3 cents per gallon. These types of promotions don’t typically require multiple trips to the store for a consumer to earn their reward.
  3. Offer useful promotions: Single-serve, immediate consumption may be down and will likely take a moment to recover. Right now, try and focus your offers on larger items like “family-sized” or “multi-pack” because that is the way many customers are shopping. Also, consider  items such as chocolate, soda packs and alcohol that appeal to people’s need for comfort and indulgence. In fact, according to recent data from PDI’s consumer behavior report, alcohol and tobacco products have outperformed most other categories and seen year-over-year increases in spend during the pandemic.

No one is sure when shopping habits will get back to “normal.” While there are several encouraging signs, it is safe to say that consumers probably won’t return to their previous shopping patterns and spend levels for quite some time. CPGs and c-stores will need to work together more than ever to incentivize their once loyal customers to come back. And that means providing valuable offers and promotions on the items consumers want and need right now.

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