Coke Solutions

Understanding Shoppers Creates Competitive Edge

Three keys to a winning strategy for driving beverage sales

By John Carroll, vice president, Drug and Value,
Coca-Cola Refreshments and contributor to Chain Drug Review

Every retailer wants to be successful selling beverages, which are proven traffic drivers, basket builders, and revenue and profit enhancers. They are an important part of people’s everyday lives and can be the centerpiece of a shopping mission.

Developing a winning beverage strategy will require chain drug stores to use data to understand what people want to drink and to learn about their shopping behavior. These insights can lead to a redefined role for consumables, one that differentiates the channel by providing a unique and brand-building experience for shoppers.

To achieve a competitive advantage derived from better serving shoppers, consider taking the following steps:

1. Identify shopper need states and occasions. Understand why people purchase different types of beverages and where they drink them. Determine if your customers primarily look for a quick burst of energy, a beverage to hydrate after a workout or a meal replacement? Do they drink their beverage at home with their family dinner, in the car on the way to work or with a snack at school?

The answers may help you make changes in formats, assortment, and marketing and technology strategies that lead to increased profitability.

2. Understand shopping missions. While consumers continue to look for a combination of value and convenience, technology has enabled them to shop smarter. These factors, plus demographic shifts, are driving dramatic changes in shopping behavior.

Such behaviors need to be anticipated and quantified, and understanding shopping missions for consumables is paramount. Learn if consumers head to your store on their way home to grab food and beverages for that night’s dinner or for a fill-in trip, holding them over before their next visit to the grocery store. Determine if they are pressed for time and need a quick pick-me-up between appointments or while waiting to get their prescription. Consider if shoppers stock up on their favorite brands because of a sale price or make a purchase driven by a combo offer.

3. Provide shopper solutions that are unique to your brand. Engage in thoughtful category planning and activation, grounded in insights and focused on results. Develop a framework for differentiated pricing, promotional, merchandising and marketing strategies around immediate consumption, fill-in trips and occasions that allow you to leverage the strength of the brands that most resonate with your best shoppers. And, because beverages play such an important role in most food occasions, they can be at the forefront of a total consumables shopper solution.

Your Bottom Line
Work with your food and beverage suppliers to unearth shopper insights needed to develop a strategic plan that leverages the channel’s inherent strengths and the everyday role of food and beverages in consumers’ lives.

Adapted with permission from Chain Drug Review. For more information about or to subscribe to Chain Drug Review, visit

Published: January 15, 2014