CHICAGO ? Most U.S. retail food shoppers have already made the majority of their purchasing decisions, and rarely buy on impulse, before they enter a grocery store, according to study from The NPD Group, a leading market research company. The study finds 94% of U.S. shoppers prepare a written shopping list prior to grocery shopping, and 72% of shoppers never or only occasionally buy items not on the list.

Entitled “Before the Store,” which takes a holistic view of the grocery shopper from meal preparation, eating behavior, menu planning to shopping, the study also found in most households there is one person with the responsibility for food and beverage shopping, and one person responsible for meal preparation – and most of the time that person is a woman.

Although the woman of the house tends to have the primary responsibility of grocery shopping and meal planning, the grocery list preparation appears to be a family affair. Sixty percent of married and family households report contributions from other family members. Among younger households, a spouse is more likely to contribute to the household shopping list when kids are not present; whereas children provide input to the shopping list in nearly 40% of family households.

“For food and beverage manufacturers and retailers, it’s all about getting on the list,” said Ann Hanson, executive director of product development and author of the report. “With so many purchasing decisions being made at home where meals are being planned and shopping lists assembled, it’s important to focus on the consumer at home before they leave for the store.”

The study also shows most U.S. consumers (81%) eat dinner at home, and most households plan these meals in advance.

As for purchasing items not on the list, while most shoppers don’t purchase unplanned items while in the store, approximately one in four primary grocery shoppers are more impulse driven while grocery shopping. The top reasons for an impulse purchase are: saw it on promotion (80%) saw it in the store and remembered it was needed (67%), and looked like a good meal or snack solution (37%).

The top reasons for impulse purchases are: saw it on promotion, 80%; saw it in the store and remembered it was needed, 67%; and looked like a good meal/snack solution, 37%.

“While most grocery shoppers shop for their food items around once a week, consumers decide what to eat, drink, or serve many times a day,” Hanson said. “It’s these daily activities, and the needs behind them, that drive their purchase decisions.”