Patterns of buying food changing?
The cost of hand-to-mouth living – Financial Times:
A few weeks ago, when I was chatting with the head of one of America’s largest food and drink companies, he made a revealing comment about data flows. Like most consumer groups, this particular company is currently spending a lot of money to monitor its customers with big data. But it is not simply watching what they do or do not buy. These days it is increasingly scrutinizing the micro-level details of pay and benefit cycles in every district in America. The reason? Before 2007, this executive said, consumer spending on food and drink was fairly stable during the month in most US cities. But since 2007, spending patterns have become extremely volatile. More and more consumers appear to be living hand-to-mouth, buying goods only when their pay checks, food stamps or benefit money arrive. And this change has not simply occurred in the poorest areas: even middle-class districts are prone to these swings. Hence the need to study local pay and benefit cycles. “Consumers are living pay check by pay check, and they tend to spend accordingly. Then you have 50 million people on food stamps and that has cycles too. So for our business it has become critical to understand the cycle – when pay [and benefit] checks are arriving.”
(hat tip rjs)
Part of this relates to increased focus on inventory minimization and efforts to reduce spoilage. I wonder if they were really able to track the spending of consumers, or if they were measuring only by their replenishment cycle in the past.
I can definitely say there are days when EBT accounts fill up that grocery stores are mobbed. Then again, the grocery I go to typically is always mobbed (Market Basket Chelsea), because they have the best prices and a wide variety of immigrant friendly foods that aren’t available at other major supermarkets (goat meat and the like).
maybe its a good thing the corporations are watching us, since the government doesn’t appear to be.
fifty million people on food stamps.
The data collection is so good now that there was a case (heard on NPR show) of Target I believe noting buying patterns such that they could determine is a woman was newly expecting. So much so that a teenagers father had words with the store manager as his daughter was now being targeted for marketing to of items of interest for an expected mom. Dad later called to apologize to the manager.
The data collection and mining has gotten that accurate.