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Lower Gas Prices Increase Grocery Opportunities

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Acosta Sales & Marketing released the 11th edition of its The Why? Behind the Buy research report, which outlines shifts in the consumer decision-making process to help consumer packaged goods (CPG) retailers and suppliers hone their sales and marketing strategies. The annual report analyzes how Americans grocery shop and what drives their purchase decisions.

"Grocery shopping has become a complex, consumer-centric matrix of options as Americans have more choices today than ever before," said Colin Stewart, senior vice president at Acosta. "As consumers report saving an average of $67 per month due to lower gas prices, and directing some of those savings to food and groceries, there are even more decisions to make on what, where and how to buy." 

By better understanding current shopper behaviors and purchase drivers, CPG brands and retailers can successfully convert these extra dollars into incremental sales, Stewart added. 

Key findings of the new report include that lower gas prices are allowing consumers to spend money elsewhere, with most indicating they will use their gas savings for food/groceries, paying bills and going out more. Spending more on groceries is particularly popular with younger consumers, as 72 percent of shoppers aged 18-34 indicated they will do so.

However, these extra grocery dollars likely won't all be spent in one place. Shoppers don't mind "store surfing" to meet their needs, with the average shopper visiting approximately seven different store locations to buy groceries in the past six months.

Generation X and millennial shoppers are particularly willing to buy groceries at non-supermarket locations, and show slightly greater interest in convenience stores, drugstores and natural/organic grocers than the rest of the U.S. population. While a quarter of total U.S. shoppers reported purchasing groceries at c-stores in the past six months, 30 percent of Gen X shoppers and 32 percent of millennials reported doing so.

Shopper decisions also vary based on purchase category, brands and household influencers. For example, seven in 10 shoppers said they decide to shop a particular category while they are still at home, while 55 percent of shoppers generally decide what brand to buy while in the store.

The latest Acosta report advises that retailers must remember that shoppers seek convenience, experience and value, and that providing shoppers the synthesis of all three will differentiate retailers and brands. Retailers should also look for ways to convert consumers' extra dollars to incremental category and brand purchases.

The full report is available for download at

Headquartered in Jacksonville, Acosta Sales & Marketing is a full-service sales, marketing and service company in North America.

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