Dairy is a versatile department. Categories that sit side by side play very different roles for shoppers and for retailers. By comparing categories, we better inform our category management strategies.

Using the latest shopper insights from Shopper Intelligence UK’s recent survey (June-August 2020) here we shall focus on two categories within Dairy: Yoghurts vs. Chilled Desserts, and Block Cheese vs. Specialty Cheese – and understand how we can harness the strengths of each segment from a shopper perspective.

Yoghurts and Chilled Desserts: Different category roles

Yoghurts are normally a purchase which has been planned before the shopper gets to the store. Only 18% of the time is the decision made in store. Chilled Desserts are different. 39% of the time the decision to buy them is made in store. And half of those unplanned purchases occur because the Chilled Dessert catches the shopper’s eye.

So what? For Yoghurts, the task is less about securing the shopper and more about making sure they buy as much as possible (big packs and multibuys). For Chilled Desserts, it is all about catching the shopper’s eye, and tempting them. Secondary space is therefore important, as is attention-grabbing packaging, merchandising and Point of Sale material. If the shopper sees a gorgeous looking chocolate mousse, the Pavlovian dog inside them will send them running down the aisle to buy.

Clearly differentiate Block and Specialty cheeses for an effective strategy

The Cheese category covers a wide variety of types and formats which make managing it an interesting challenge for retailers and manufacturers alike. When it comes to shoppers the best approach is to create a broad split between regular Block cheese (cheddar, etc.) and more Specialty cheeses like camembert and stilton. The primary reason for this is that behaviour and attitudes are very different and a strategy to grow the ‘cheese basket’ needs to address this. Specialty cheese is heavily browsed versus average with 27% of shoppers wanting to spend time shopping the category (compared with just 18% in Block cheese), clearly this is a more considered purchase versus the more ‘auto-pilot’ habitual shop for block cheese. (Read more about the Browsing VS Grab’N’Go shopping mode).

A strategy to drive basket size that retailers could consider here is the ‘+1 purchase’, whereby the goal is to focus on easy to shop and easy to find block cheese fixtures, ensuring that shoppers can make that quick simple ‘auto-pilot’ purchase – consequently freeing up time to browse speciality cheese and hopefully make an additional (+1) purchase.

Promotions can also play a role in this strategy; block cheese shoppers are much more likely to be influenced by promotions (25% vs. 18% for specialty). There is a watch out here however, block cheese is much less expandable in terms of consumption compared to specialty – only 15% of block cheese shoppers suggest they will ‘eat more if they buy more’ block cheese. For Specialty cheese this rises to 30% and perhaps suggests a multibuy promotional opportunity to drive weight of purchase without impacting purchase frequency.

Finally, one needs to consider what shoppers of these two categories really want in order to effectively differentiate the offer. On product level, Specialty cheese shoppers are looking for more Premium choices with focus on Authenticity. In terms of store layout, Specialty Cheese shoppers need easy Navigation to the category in-store, and an enjoyable shopping experience. On the other hand, Block cheese shoppers are much more likely to be concerned with value and price – fixtures that reflect this are more likely to be successful.

Interested in other UK shopper insights? Look around in our Resources section! Got questions about your categories? Contact us to speak to an expert.

All data in this blog post by Shopper Intelligence UK. Online survey of n=28,000 UK shoppers in all UK multiples in June-August 2020.

About the author: Chris Adkins is the Managing Director of Shopper Intelligence UK, with 20+ years of experience in Category Management and Shopper Insights.