According to MMR Research Worldwide these figures most likely mask macro shifts in shopping behavior — shifts that are putting downward pressure on impulse sales.

MMR says the firm calls upon manufacturers and retailers to make renewed efforts to reignite unplanned purchasing. 

"Every category relies to some degree on unplanned shopper purchases, but there are many factors in play right now that are bad news for impulsive behaviour," says Andrew Wardlaw, chief ideas officer at MMR Research.

In his recent think piece titled 'The collapse of impulse buying, and what to do about it', Wardlaw reveals that 'drag factors' such as economic tightening and a rise in intentional living are making ad hoc in-store decisions less likely.

Add to these, the current collapse in advertising spend and new regulatory pressures (which are restricting prominent placement of products high in fat, salt and sugar in the United Kingdom) and recent pharmaceutical innovation in the United States (a reference to the roll-out of Ozempic, which is designed to suppress appetite) then you have a perfect storm, says MMR. 

"Factor in shopper migration to online, where shopper confidence is typically lower, then an already concerning picture becomes even more so," adds Wardlaw.    

"Consumer brands must create a little more FOMO with their innovation pipeline," Wardlaw says. Collaborations and limited-edition products, such as Heinz's new The Godfather Pasta Sauce have shown that they can captivate shoppers and drive incremental category sales."

MMR says in response to intentional living trends, brands are urged to align product offerings with core consumer values. Wardlaw emphasises the importance of creating products that resonate with consumers' aspirations for purposeful consumption, as demonstrated by Alicia Key's beauty products, which are infused with intentionality.

As traditional advertising models falter amidst evolving media landscapes, Wardlaw underscores the importance of disruptive formats and memorable experiences to safeguard mental availability, adds MMR.

Wardlaw says, "In the low attention economy, pack and product experiences pierce people's consciousness,". He has cited examples such as Juicy Marbles' bright and innovative approach to plant-based meat alternatives.

According to MMR, regulatory interventions, particularly aimed at curbing unhealthy consumption patterns, pose additional challenges for impulse sales. However, Wardlaw remains optimistic about the potential for compliant impulsive products to meet consumer demand while adapting to evolving standards.

"Even household cleaning products can be made more impulsive if the execution is right," he says.

Furthermore, the surge in online grocery shopping underscores the need for brands to bridge the sensory gap and improve confidence in digital environments, says MMR. Innovative approaches, such as Sensory Charged Video developed by MMR in collaboration with The Together Agency, offer avenues to stimulate impulse purchases and enhance consumer engagement online.

"The collapse of impulse buying necessitates a shift in our approach to product development and consumer engagement. As custodians of the CPG industry, we must embrace innovation that responsibility generates upticks in unplanned buying," concludes Wardlaw. 

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