With forecasters predicting that rising inflation could steer Christmas shoppers away from premium food and drink products this year, FMCG suppliers are being urged to draw on insights of what influences and motivates their shoppers as part of their commercial strategies for 2018 and beyond.

Category management specialist Bridgethorne believes that despite increasingly difficult economic circumstances, even if shoppers are feeling the pinch, rising inflation doesn’t automatically mean shoppers won’t indulge in premium food and drink for Christmas.

“The increase in grocery inflation has led to some people suggesting that shoppers under financial pressure may be cautious about buying premium products this year,” explains Nick Kirby, Director of Shopper, eCommerce and Analytics at Bridgethorne.

“However, experience tells us that shoppers will want to make it the best Christmas they can. They may cut back in the short term in order to be able to afford to indulge over Christmas. However, a potential move away from premium, if it should happen, could still mean a boost for value products and ranges. Suppliers need to be aware of and plan for that possibility.”

The company was commenting after the latest Kantar Worldpanel data showed supermarket sales increasing in value by 3.2% year on year in the run up to Christmas. However, with the figures showing that volume sales have increased by less than 1%, it is apparent that it rising prices that is underpinning positive supermarket performance.

Kirby adds that changing financial influences on shoppers should serve as a warning for any supplier or retailer grappling for shopper loyalty in what is becoming an uncertain and economically difficult climate.

“Suppliers able to draw on available insights should translate their consumer and brand strategies into shopper strategies as a fundamental part of their short to medium term planning,” adds Kirby.  “This can then lead to the creation of activation plans clearly linked to strategic goals for target shoppers and which identify and prioritise the right messages, delivered at the right time throughout the shopper journey.”

Bridgethorne has developed a series of insight-led approaches that will help supplier organisations address key aspects of Integrated Shopper Management and integrate the shopper into their existing business practices and strategic priorities. Areas that can be addressed range from shopper understanding, through strategy and planning right up to activation and evaluation.