By MELVIN T. COPELAND ROM the standpoint of consumers' buying habits, merchandise sold in retail stores can be divided roughly into three classes ^:— ( i ) convenience goods; (2) shopping goods; (3) specialty goods. Using this classification, one of the initial steps in laying out a sales or advertising plan is to determine whether the article to be sold will be purchased by consumers ordinarily with shopping or without shopping, at points of immediate convenience or in central trading districts, with insistence on an individual brand, with merely brand preference, or with indifference to brand. This preliminary analysis facilitates the determination of the kind of store through which the market for the specific product should be sought, the density of distribution required, the methods of wholesale distribution to be preferred, the relations to be established with dealers, and, in general, the sales burden which the advertising must carry. Convenience Goods Convenience goods are those customarily purchased at easily accessible
1 The methods of marketing goods for retail (iistribution are essentially different from the methods of marketing goods for wholesale consumption. In the one case it is necessary to select marketing methods whereby the goods can be parceled out in small lots to individual consumers; in the other the sales are made in wholesale lots for large scale use, as in manufacturing or in construction work. Mr. C. C. Parlin, manager of the Commercial Research Division of the Curtis Publishing Company, has divided merchandise for retail distri-


stores; examples are canned soup, tobacco products, electric light bulbs, safety razor blades, shoe polish, laundry soap, crackers, popular magazines, confectionery, and tooth paste. The consumer is familiar with these articles; and as soon as he recognizes the want, the demand usually becomes clearly defined in his mind. Furthermore, he usually desires the prompt satisfaction of the want The unit price for most articles in this class is too small to justify the consumer's going far out of his way or incurring the expense of a street-car fare in order to procure a special brand. It is for such reasons as these that a product subject to this type of demand gains a large sales advantage when it is purveyed in numerous stores located at points easily accessible to consumers. The consumer is in the habit of purchasing convenience goods at stores located conveniently near his residence, near his place of employment, at a point that Can be visited easily on the road to and from his place of employment, or on a route traveled regularly for purposes other than buying trips.
bution into two classes—convenience goods ami shopping goods. (Merchandising of Textiles, pp. 5-6.) In the case of shopping goods he made a distinction between men's shopping goods and women's shopping goods. In the classification explained in this article, convenience goods are defined to include practically the same merchandise as was included by Mr. Parlin in convenience goods. The category of merchandise included in shopping goods in this new classification, however, differs from Mr. Parlin's classification, and a new class—'Specialty goods—is added.

and novelty articles. 283 for most convenience goods to be sold through wholesalers. drug stores.* but it is in the trade in convenience goods that chain store systems have shown the greatest development. are purchased at frequent intervals ljy the average consumer. Shopping goods are purchased largely by women. A majority of these stores are unit stores. to obtain this widespread distribution it is customary 2 A unit store is a store. usually can be delayed for a time after the existence of the need has been recognized. he must develop a large sales organization and arrange for his salesmen to visit the retailers at frequent intervals. the specific store in which the purchase is to be made is not determined until after the offerings of at least two or three institutions have been inspected. furthermore. the manufacturer of a convenience article must aim to secure distribution of his product through a large number of stores in each territory. to be sure. without an elaborate departmental organization. Usually the consumer wishes to make this comparison in several stores. moreover. Many of the retail outlets commonly utilized for this purpose at the present time are small unit stores. The typical shopping institution is the department store. the immediate satisfaction of the want is not so essential as in the case of most convenience goods. Whenever a manufacturer of a product in this category elects to sell directly to unit stores. and hardware stores. however. and these "repeat" purchases enable the stores handling such wares to secure adequate patronage with reasonably small investments in stocks of merchandise. owned and managed 33 an independent unit for the sale of goods through personal salesmanship. Because of the desire of consumers to purchase this type of merchandise at easily accessible stores. The purchase of shopping goods. As a rule. the store catering to the shopping trade must have a central location which attracts shoppers from a wide territory. quality. chinaware. The few chains of specialty stores. Shopping Goods Shopping goods are those for which the consumer desires to compare prices. Typical shopping goods are gingham cloth.RELATION OF CONSUMERS' BUYING HABITS TO MARKETING In sparsely settled districts. and style at the time of purchase. One of the essential characteristics of chain store systems is the combination of the advantages of large scale operation with those of small scale selling by locating branches at points which can be reached easily by consumers for the purchase of convenience goods. women's gloves. Typical retail establishments carrying convenience goods are grocerjr stores. consequently. the volume of sales . constitute an exception. In order to justify the expenses of operation in such a location. this is in contrast to the usual attitude in purchasing convenience goods. The exact nature of the merchandise wanted may not be clearly defined in advance in the mind of the shopper. but fundamentally the buying habits are the same in all districts. Because of the variety of merchandise which must be carried to satisfy the shopper and the relative infrequency of purchases of shopping articles by the average consumer. which for reasons to be indicated later operate on the principle of one store in a town. Convenience goods. the distance a consumer must travel to reach a store carrying convenience goods necessarily is greater than in densely populated districts. Ordinarily a special trip is made to the shopping center for the purpose of buying such merchandise.

the consumer prefers to deal with a store offering an attractive variety of Specialty Goods styles and sizes from which to select. It is because of distinctive charor a specialty line. the con. In numerous lines of specialty marketing of shopping goods directly goods. make the purchase without shopping. Specialty to the shopping trade. which induces sequently. tempt to distribute his product through For specialty good^s the manufacboth department stores and scattered turer's brand. the actual purchase of a spedom that a department store. The felt by the consumer. for the to reach the store selling specialty rental is high and the delivery interval goods. is much to rely upon the the case of shopping goods. ing. purchased at stores that are easily acA store location suitable for trade in cessible. When a manufacturer is laying cialty lines are a larger proportion of out his marketing plans. men's consumers' buying habits. a specialty store generally is him to put forth special effort to visit located at a point to which customers the store in which they are sold and to can be drawn from a wide area. vacuum a department store to cater effectively cleaners. he the total sales of such merchandise than ordinarily finds it inconsistent to at. it ordinarily is necessary for shopping goods usually is not adapted the consumer to put forth special effort to the convenience goods trade. Examples of spefactors of location. sumer. The average size of the shop. other than price. In purchasing specialty goods. and cialty goods are men's clothing. acteristics associated with the brand or The number of stores selling shop. organization. in contrast to the general dis- . Whereas convenience goods are tunity for shopping.284 HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW must be large. The type of store for quality and service stands out store selected depends upon whether it prominently in the mind of the conis a shopping line. From the manufacturer's standpoint. for ex. it follows of the goods to be bought and the store that the type of store which handles m which the purchase is to be made. handicap it in goods are purchased by both men and developing a business in convenience women.cialty article may be postponed for a ample. This facilitates the ping. It is sel. Conversely.a specialty line calls for selected distrisumer determines in advance the nature bution. therefore. such as men's shoes and clothfrom manufacturer to retailer.accept the merchandise without shoperally strong.goods. but men's purchases of spegoods.customer at infrequent as generally being fair and to ping store is large and its credit gen. As in the case of shopping inconvenient to consumers. Consumer. furthermore. and smaller than the number of convenience prices of merchandise offered by that stores.the store that the consumer is prepared ping goods. the retailer's brand. convenience goods ordinarily cannot provided a satisfactory selection of carry a large enough variety and range merchandise can be effected in that of products to offer an attractive oppor. or unit stores or through both department the general reputation of the retail stores and chain stores. high-grade furniture. has found it possible to operate time after the specific need has been a grocery department at a profit. and phonographs. Specialty goods are those which have Purchases are made by each individual some particular attraction for the con. which enable shoes. a convenience line.

Women's shoes which feature style novelties border on the shopping classification. Staple groceries. men's cloth- . however. border on the classification of convenience goods. In the shoe trade. The piece goods departments are likely to remain shopping departments. Shoes. The manufacturer of specialty goods who works out his plan of distribution systematically on this basis also often finds it advisable.and highpriced shoes for both men and women are specialty goods. The dealers who are to handle the specialty line must be carefully selected on the basis of their ability to attract the class of customers to whom the product will appeal. are clearly convenience goods. An exclusive agency is seldom.RELATION OF CONSUMERS' BUYING HABITS TO MARKETING tribution essential for convenience goods. a few manufacturers recently have been developing standard trade-marked . their patronage is secured primarily on the basis of the specialties 285 that they carry. The common grades of work shoes. if ever. through his national or local advertising. Retailers must be chosen who can be relied upon to use aggressive selling methods in attracting customers to their stores. justified for any line which is not a specialty line. on the other hand. fancy groceries. lines. and the methods of cooperation which are essential between the manufacturer and the dealer. the average department store now seems to be faced definitely with the question of whether its merchandising should be primarily on a shopping basis or whether at least some of its departments should be developed on a specialty basis. The manufacturer of women's novelty shoes. ordinarily must place his product in a larger number of stores than would be required were he selling medium-grade dress shoes for men. cannot advisedly leave the shopping institutions out of consideration in planning his sales program. exclusive agencies are granted to retailers for the distribution of specialty goods. Frequently. Because of the part which each individual retail store handling the merchandise plays in the sale of the specialty goods. Although women's ready-to-wear suits generally are shopping goods. that manufacturers have found it practical to operate retail branches. specialty goods are especially suited to distribution by direct sale from manufacturer to retailers. In case of several commodities. the care with which these stores must be selected. are specialty goods. medium. to assume part of the burden of focusing the demand on individual stores. Several retail stores also have developed specialty reputations for women's ready-to-wear. on the other hand. which tend to fall into the class of specialties. anywhere from one hundred to several hundred grocery stores are carrying convenience goods. for example. It is only in the marketing of specialty goods. for example. In view of the conditions in the women's ready-to-wear field and also in several other fields. ordinarily only one or perhaps two or three stores in a city can obtain enough business on these goods to warrant taking on a line of fancy groceries. furthermore. Although these stores also sell staple groceries. The manufacturer of cheap work shoes. In each city there usually are from one to three stores which have a high reputation for specialties in groceries. in the same city. Because of the limited market for such specialties and the volume of business necessary to justify carrying such a stock. the articles tend to fall into more than one of these three categories.

Because of the differences in the buying habits of consumers in purchasing these classes of goods. The increase in the sale of crackers in packages. brands do not play the same part in the merchandising plans for all three classes. convenience. A brand is a means of identifying the product of an individual manufacturer or the merchandise purveyed by an individual wholesaler or retailer. women's ready-to-wear. but generally without a conscious. For an unbranded product. they will afford attractive outlets for manufacturers whose distribution otherwise would be through specialty stores. as. the demand depended upon the amount consumers wished to purchase or were induced to purchase by retailers who featured the article. either entirely upon their own initiative or as a result of the sales efforts of the retailers by whom it is sold. at most. well-coordinated policy for a store as a whole. In these specialty departments the emphasis is shifted from comparative prices and comparative styles to the special qualities and characteristics of the merchandise carried. If a product is unbranded. ing. shopping. In other department stores the merchandising is still almost entirely on a shopping basis. If the product is branded. with the featuring of prices and bargains that are supposed to appeal to the shopper. For such an unbranded product the manufacturer must rely chiefly upon his ability to produce cheaply. has given greater significance to brands of crackers and has facilitated the use of aggressive sales methods by cracker . and numerous other departments are being developed in several department stores as specialty departments. but also to arouse latent demand by stimulating a larger number of consumers to want his product or by making previous consumers desire to use more of his product at a specific price. for instance. When the American Sugar Refining Company. Relation of Brands to Buying Habits Convenience.286 HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW sold in bulk. In so far as department stores develop specialty departments. furniture. but it also could practically undertake to induce consumers to use more sugar. for example. began to put out sugar in packages bearing the company's trademark. and specialty goods are sold both branded and unbranded. in 1912. direct his sales efforts chiefly toward wholesale and retail merchants. the manufacturer can undertake not only to direct the active demand to his particular product. for example. the company not only was in a position where it could inform the consumer regarding the merits of that particular brand. sales were not directly stimulated by the sugar refiner. must pursue merely passive selling methods or. the volume of the demand ordinarily depends upon the quantity that consumers elect to buy. the individual manufacturer seldom can afford to assume the burden of stimulating demand which cannot be specifically directed to the product of his own factory. in contrast to the former bulk sales. in order to be able to offer low prices. When sugar was With the development of the package trade. and he. for example. in canning fruit. the tendency during recent years has been for an increasing proportion of convenience goods to be branded. The real demand for any commodity is the quantity which consumers will buy at a specific price. and specialty merchandise. on the other hand. silverware. and the advertising problems of manufacturers are quite dissimilar for shopping.

Among shopping goods there has been some increase in the number of brands. it serves primarily as a cause for recognition. style. by which is meant a brand or trade-mark that is applied commonly to a group of different products turned out by a single manufacturer. If the consumer's previous acquaintance with the brand has been favorable. for example. serves primarily to establish consumer recognition for all products in the group as soon as the consumer becomes acquainted with one article bearing the common brand. When a manufacturer undertakes to focus the potential demand upon his product with brand identification. style. For some products—such as silk goods. If the product has some special feature. A family brand. Consumer Recognition 287 When a brand has any significance at all. The experience of retail dealers indicates that for shopping and convenience goods the common brand aids in promoting consumer recognition. the experience of the consumer with one article bearing the brand is likely to establish in the minds of consumers at least an attitude of preference for other articles bearing the same brand. as. the recognized brand will be selected from among other unrecognized brands or from among unbranded merchandise. or if the manufacturer's or dealer's advertising has made a favorable impression. it occasionally is possible to arouse the interest of the consumer to a point of preference. It is unsafe. cannot hope Consumer recognition soon shades ordinarily to secure many sales merely into consumer preference.RELATION OF CONSUMERS' BUYING HABITS TO MARKETING manufacturers. except in a few cases where retail stores have reputations which practically render it unnecessary for them to have brands placed on the merchandise which they sell. cotton fabrics dyed in fast colors or fast-colored silk goods loaded with a minimum of tetra-chloride of tin. but large quantities of merchandise in this class still are sold unbranded. When sevbecause of brand. If it is a specialty line. however. (2) preference. and price. he must consider the attitude in which the consumer ordinarily approaches the purchase of such an article. Specialty goods are all branded. or {3) insistence. . other things being equal. The manufacturer of such goods. and women's suits —pattern. When the selection narrows down to a choice between articles of this sort approximately equal in pattern. for the manufacturer to count upon the family brand to develop more than consumer recognition without the presentation of sales arguments for each article bearing the brand. which are higher in price or less popular in pat. are offered to the goods shown in other stores. The attitude of the consumer may be that of: ( i ) recognition. however. and price are considered by the consumer. before brand. the recognition of a known brand Consumer Preference sways the choice. the one Consumer recognition—an acquaintance with the general standing of the brand—^probably is the only attitude toward that brand which the manufacturer of a typical shopping line ordinarily can establish in the mind of the average purchaser by means of advertising and sales efforts. ginghanis. consumer by a retail salesman.similar in general quah'ties and in extern and style than directly competing ternal appearance. if his product is eral brands oi merchandise.

the sale has proceeded one step further. for example. If the consumer has the attitude of insistence. the entire sales burden rests on the salesman in the store visited. the consumer often approaches the retailer with the question. It is because the consumer generally has merely the attitude of brand preference in purchasing convenience goods that it is essential for the manufacturer of such a product to place his wares on sale in a large number of stores in each territory. is chosen. If the manufacturer has established consumer preference. The manufacturer of an electrical washing machine. who is seeking to effect economies in selling his product. The brand comes first in the consumer's mind and signifies to him the quality. advertising. in its special features. but ordinarily it is not strong enough in this class of merchandise to make him insist on that brand to the point of visiting a less convenient store to make the purchase. another brand ordinarily is accepted by the consumer. One of the first steps to be taken by a manufacturer. "Have you the X brand?" If the retailer does not have that brand in stock. style. or the type of container that he wishes to obtain. consumer recognition. Through advertising. To warrant undertaking to develop this attitude. or. If the consumer recognizes the brand. In such cases the consumer has a preference for the brand asked for. a substitute may be taken by the consumer. for example. he accepts no substitute unless it is an emergency. is to make an elementary analysis of the habits of consumers in buying articles of the sort he is producing. Marketing costs generally are high. the manufacturer of that brand has taken the initial step in consummating the sale to the consumer. or perhaps the retailer's recommendation has created a preference. or in the service rendered by the manufacturer or retailer as to differentiate it distinctly from competing articles and to induce consumers to put forth special effort to secure that brand. consumer preference. The formulation of an effective marketing plan for which previous experience. When the consumer approaches the purchase of an article in this attitude of mind. or pattern of article. if the retailer specifically urges another brand in the place of the one called for. This attitude of consumer insistence holds commonly in the purchase of specialty goods.s brand should be sought out. The strength of the brand depends upon the degree of preference in the mind of the consumer. The difference between no standing at all in the mind of the consumer.288 HARVARD BUSINESS REVIEW must be so individualized in quality. undertakes to present his sales arguments in such a way as to lead the consumer to insist upon the purchase of his particular make. If the consumer has no familiarity whatsoever with the brand of product to be purchased. In purchasing convenience goods. This practise of asking for brands is common for many consumers in the purchase of convenience articles. the manufacturer of such a machine seeks to convince the consumer that his is the machine which should be purchased and that a store carrying thi. Consumer Insistence The third stage in which the demand for branded articles manifests itself is consumer insistence. it remains merely for the retail salesman to close the sale. and consumer insistence is one of the degrees to which the selling process has been carried with the consumer before he visits a retail store to make his purchase. the product .

This approach assures the tion and the advertising program in maximum results from the sales efforts accordance with the analysis of the buy. . the next step is to adjust the the market for the product is to be deplans of retail and wholesale distribu.veloped.RELATION OF CONSUMERS' BUYING HABITS TO MARKETING 289 must start with a consideration of the ing habits of consumers among whom consumer.that are put forth.

org. For rates and permission. It is not intended for use as assigned course material in academic institutions nor as corporate learning or training materials in businesses. Academic licensees may not use this content in electronic reserves. . persistent linking from syllabi or by any other means of incorporating the content into course resources. contact permissions@harvardbusiness. electronic course packs. May 2009 Harvard Business Review and Harvard Business Publishing Newsletter content on EBSCOhost is licensed for the private individual use of authorized EBSCOhost users.Harvard Business Review Notice of Use Restrictions. Business licensees may not host this content on learning management systems or use persistent linking or other means to incorporate the content into learning management systems. Harvard Business Publishing will be pleased to grant permission to make this content available through such means.