The just in time consumer

A long article in the Wall Street Journal says essentially one thing: People are holding lower stock levels in their pantry, and buying less items at a time.

The Great Depression replaced a spendthrift culture with a generation of frugal savers. The recent recession, too, has left in its wake a deeply changed shopper: the just-in-time consumer.

It’s an interesting phenomenon, and one which makes complete sense when we think about it. If we buy in bulk we may save a little per unit, but the downside is often a drop in quality and freshness, and the potential to overestimate consumption and have items sit in the shelf for years.

We have also see several cases of manufacturers reducing packet sizes, though sadly not the prices to match. But are we also seeing the lower pantry levels in New Zealand? Are the average shopping trolley sizes going down?

Published by Lance Wiggs


2 replies on “The just in time consumer”

  1. I think it is common sense that people adopt successful business principles to their personal household spending. JIT is common sense. It saves money and improves quality. Since a lot of shops are open almost 24/7 it should not be difficult to have lower stock.


  2. Always interesting to observe how behaviours change.
    I recently ran a customer experience study for the dominant UK online grocery delivery service, shadowing customers as they shopped online for their groceries.
    This ‘just in time’ approach was common, buying bulky products and those with long shelf-life online but collecting perishables like meat and veg on a more daily basis to guarantee freshness / reduce waste.

    Martijn’s point above about shop opening hours is a good one too as this constant availability, combined with the JIT grocery shopping approach allows the consumer choice and importantly, spontaneity.

    While many grocery websites have features which essentially allow you to ‘order the same as last week’ this just doesn’t fit with unpredictable day to day lifestyles of some.
    However, these features are most useful for the forgettable mainstays like cleaning products and toilet paper, which is not a product you want to have ‘just in time’.


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