Economic downturn impacts health food retailer

August 26, 2009

When I worked in health products it was certainly quite a conservative business.  Own label vitamins were still in their infancy and even in Holland & Barrett there were restrictions on the strength of different supplements.  The raciest thing we marketed under the Healthcrafts brand was a supplement called Z.E.S.T.  It was packaged in a black box with a grey top and was a vitamin based concoction including ginseng, hardly a forerunner of blue pills!

But I was some surprised, even amused by the news that Holland & Barrett are to diversify their product range into adult toys, or to be more specific ‘intimate massagers’.  The rationale in this case seems to be that this is as a result of the current recession.  In the words of a spokesperson for the retailer “People are spending more time at home during these difficult economic times.”

However the most positive way to respond to an economic downturn is to take risks, do something different when the tendency is to be more conservative, drop prices, stop spending and put your head in the sand. Why not try something new? It certainly gets people’s attention and changes perceptions of even your regular customers.  Even better, a shopper who never visits Holland and Barrett might be more tempted to see what else they have to offer and become a loyal customer. 

We know from our own research with shoppers that they are creatures of habit and visit the same shops day in day out without trying alternatives unless they have a significant huge reason to do so.

Could the actions of Holland & Barrett be enough to attract new customers and convert them to regulars buying their full range AND increase loyalty and frequency of visits of existing customers?


Why track party size?

August 7, 2009

This is question we are often asked, “can you explain to me why you track the size of shopper parties amongst shopping centre visitors and also why you ask spend questions of the shopper party not the individual level?”

Well, we know on average that around 60% of shopper parties are solus shoppers, in other words for these people the individual spend and the party spend is one and the same, but let us consider the other shopper groups. Let us take the example of a shopper group. Mum, dad and the ‘little un’ who is only 4 years old. Let us consider £30 spent by them on their shopping trip. The £30 was spent by the mother, but the actual cash came from the father’s bank account via cash point machine and wallet. The £30 was actually spent on clothing and toys for their daughter.

So is this spend by the mother the father or the child? Is this actually £10 per head or is it more meaningful to keep this at the £30 per party level?

Party size remains a key statistic for shopping centre managers. A fall in average party size combined with constant footfall can indicate a rise in the number of shopper parties and hence it is vital to measure spend at the party size too.