Families are a rich seam to mine for grocery spend versus other consumer segments but rather than market to mum with strong price messaging, retailers would be better advised to tailor campaigns around events and create occasions to bring more family shoppers into store more often, claims TCC, a worldwide leader in retail marketing promotions

Billed as the engine of the economy, the family is a top consumer group right now.

“Family is the important demographic government is talking about and, as a consumer group, is so cross-category,” says Gary Pope, co-founder at Kids Industries, a specialist marketing and research agency that only works in the family marketplace.

Kantar Worldpanel records the grocery spending habits of six key life cycle groups: pre-family, young family, older family, young post-family, older post-family and single elderly.

While young family and older family shoppers visit stores less frequently on an annual basis than all other groups, except the pre-family segment, their spend per trip is significantly higher.

In the 52 weeks ending 25 December 2011, younger family shoppers spent on average £25.10 per trip and older family shoppers spent £26.17 per trip.

Conversely, older post-family shoppers, who visit stores the most often, spend £16.35 per trip; while single elderly shoppers spend the least, £11.62 per trip.

“The older you are the more frequently you shop but the less you spend,” says Ed Garner, director at Kantar Worldpanel. “It’s more a social activity whereas younger people are cash rich and time poor. Young families are also strong internet shoppers,” he says.

On an annual basis, older family shoppers are one of the biggest spending groups, racking up £5,023.00 in sales on average in the year to 25 December 2011; only marginally behind the top spenders, the older post-family segment.

Young family spend, meanwhile, reached £3,760.00 in the same period, outpacing both that of the single elderly group, £3,049.00 and pre-family sector, £2,716.00.

No wonder the UK’s top supermarkets are firing their marketing messages at the family segment.

“What all the big four are doing right now is price busting each other and in utterly family-focused categories,” says Pope. Working with family brands, Pope claims to have trouble differentiating the consumer from one multiple to another. “They are all going after that same person and that is mum,” he says. “They all want the family shopper because the basket is bigger and they shop a wider range of categories.”

The British Retail Consortium agrees. “It’s clear from the way the major grocery retailers promote their wide range of goods they sell that they have an eye on the family and household market,” says spokesperson Sarah Cordey. “The competition around price is particularly fierce. The major grocery retailers’ consumer, for whom price is key, tend to be consumers who are bringing up a family and have multiple mouths to feed.”

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