New Catalina Study Shows: Product Innovation Keeps Center Store a Vital Driver of Trips and Sales for Grocery Retailers

Research Shows How Fast-Growing Product Categories Benefit from Growing Consumer Motivations Like Heart Healthy, Natural Ingredients and Paleo Diet

Catalina, the leader in shopper intelligence and personalized engagement, today released new shopper research showing the Center Store remains a vital driver of trips and volume for grocery retailers, with more than 99 percent of all shoppers purchasing from the Center Store in 2017. The study underscores how brands that introduce innovative, often-niche products that address evolving consumer motivations are keeping the Center Store relevant.

The new report, “The Center Store Revolution: Innovation Drives Trips and Category Growth,” identifies the biggest subcategory gainers and losers in the Center Store. It also shows that specific cross-category consumer preferences like “Heart Healthy,” “Low-Fat,” “Trans-Fat Avoiders,” and “GMO Avoiders” are fueling the growth of some of the fastest growing product subcategories.

Big winners include non-fat/low fat ice cream, value-priced entrée frozen dinners, sparkling/seltzer water, ready-made coffee drinks, window and glass cleaners, fresh rolls, dried meat snacks, vinegar, value-priced bath tissue, and a variety of snack and candy subcategories. Among other Center Store findings:

  • The Center Store accounted for 60 annual trips per shopper, per store, down just one trip per shopper, per store from 2016.
  • Some 99.5 percent of all shoppers frequented the Center Store in 2017, spending an average of $1,408 a year there.
  • 81 percent of all shopping baskets included at least one Center Store item.

“The Center Store is alive and well,” said Marta Cyhan, head of marketing for Catalina. “Some 8 in 10 baskets we looked at included a Center Store item, but many consumers are looking to discover something different. A new generation brands and subcategories are reinvigorating the Center Store by appealing to lifestyle and ingredient based preferences.”

The report highlights shifts in consumer purchases that are driving growth in specific categories.

Motivations Behind Fast-Growing Categories The report highlights a variety of product subcategories driving Center Store performance and explores how evolving consumer motivations, identified through Catalina’s ingredient-level shopper intelligence, are fueling their growth.

Among the study’s findings based on ingredient-level shopper intelligence:

Non-fat, low-fat, lite ice cream
- This subcategory grew 66.9 percent in dollar sales, while regular and premium ice cream declined 3.3 percent
- The average shopper in this category spent $21.37
- Heart Healthy Shoppers spent 2.7 times the average, or $56.76
- Trans-Fat Avoiders spent an average of $52.19
- Low-Fat Shoppers who bought spent $48.87
- Natural Ingredient Shoppers averaged of $46.99

Water – Sparkling/Seltzer
- Dollar sales rose 14.9 percent and trips increased 5.5 percent
- The average shopper within the category spent $17.71
- But Heart Healthy Shoppers averaged $35.17
- Low Glycemic Shoppers averaged $38.45
- Natural Shoppers spent $35.01
- Paleo Shoppers spent $33.77
- GMO Avoiders spent an average of $29.48

Frozen dinner/entrée value priced
- This subcategory, which is increasingly emphasizing healthy options, increased dollar sales by 32.9 percent and trips by 24.2 percent
- The average shopper in this subcategory spent $13.47
- However, Heart Healthy Shoppers spent 43 percent more, or $19.25

“Our study demonstrates that brands and retailers who can understand today’s shoppers based on their underlying motivations and meet their evolving needs with product innovation will be a growth engine for the Center Store,” Cyhan said. “The ability to engage the right shoppers based on ingredient-level targeting will help these brands efficiently grow their business.”

About the Study The Center Store Revolution study tracked Center Store sales for some 18 million shoppers at 6,658 grocery stores across the United States. Purchasing behavior, sales and trips for the full 52 weeks of 2017 were compared with the same period and the same stores in 2016. The Center Store was defined as including grocery, frozen and home care categories. Tobacco and alcohol were excluded due to local legal variances.

About Catalina Catalina’s personalized digital media drives lift and loyalty for the world’s leading CPG retailers and brands. Catalina personalizes the consumer’s path to purchase through mobile, online and in-store networks powered by the greatest shopper database in the world. Catalina is based in St. Petersburg, FL, with operations in the United States, Europe and Japan. To learn more, please visit or follow us on Twitter @Catalina.

Media Contact
Kevin Sugarman