Spring Cleaning: Scrubbing Deeper with Household Products Purchase Data

Spring Cleaning is a time when consumers use their daily household cleaning products to scrub deeper than just the surface. This holds true for panel data as well; sometimes the most impactful insights are hidden from plain view, waiting to be discovered with a little extra elbow grease. For example, take a look at some top-line metrics for common products in the household category.


This view gives us a quick bird’s-eye view of how each subcategory is performing. For example, bath tissue has a relatively high basket size of about $95, suggesting that it’s purchased on large stock-up grocery trips. Bath tissue also has the highest purchase frequency, meaning that the category is purchased (by each household) an average of 7 times per 52 week period.
Interestingly, dish detergent and fabric softener have almost identical purchase frequencies of 4.0 and 4.1 (respectively). However, these numbers are just averages. They don’t tell us anything about the underlying distribution. Datasets with similar means but different distributions can be problematic; imagine if we treated {0, 5, 10} the same as {4, 5, 6}. An insights professional looking to understand these categories more thoroughly will want to scrub a little deeper past the surface.

A shopper histogram is the perfect complement to shopper metrics because it takes the averaged metrics and shows you the full distribution of the data. The graph above paints a bigger picture than the averages alone for these two categories. Here, we see the underlying distribution for each category’s purchase frequency. Fabric softener is a divisive category; shoppers either buy it all the time (8+ times per year), or very rarely (just once per year). By contrast, dish detergent has a steadier distribution; more shoppers fall near the mean (buying 4 times per year).


Why is this important? As a marketing manager, it’s easy to make assumptions based on data averages. Shopper metrics alone would lead you to believe that two disparate categories have identical purchase cycles. In reality, fabric softener has two shopper segments of ‘extremists,’whereas dish detergent has fewer ‘extremists’ and a greater number of average, once-per-quarter shoppers. It’s easy to miss these crucial segments by glancing at a bird’s-eye view of the data.
Want to ‘scrub’ even deeper? Are you curious about which brands in the household category are favored by your shoppers? Get in touch with us at contactus@infoscoutinc.com and we’ll be happy to help you out!.