Price Concerns Drive Choices in New Year
Shoppers and Trends
January 25, 2009
The weakening economy, clearly impacting where people choose to shop, also had a significant impact on what consumers are purchasing. When it comes to organic products, there was a big drop-off. Only 22% listed organic as key in their store selection, compared to the 27% who sought out organics last year.
Without a doubt, consumers are less committed to costly organic foods today. Count almost half the nation among those who ‘never’ or ‘rarely’ eat them (46%), which is up four points from survey findings a year ago.
Meanwhile, private label or store-branded items were preferred by 70% of consumers; 62% preferred them in 2008. A majority (53%) purchases private label or lower-priced alternative brands, up five points from last year’s 48% finding.
Sales were another hot bottom item for money-minded shoppers. Nearly six in 10 shoppers (58%) say sales or specials are ‘very important’ factors in where they choose to shop today. That’s a full seven percentage points higher than the 51% who felt the same way a year ago.
Nearly two out of three consumers see frequent shopper programs as an important tool to help them spend less. A majority (51%) now belong to savings clubs programs, up six points from last year’s 45% finding.
Indeed, shoppers are increasingly seeking out bargains. Even in this current economic climate, however, they are not willing to compromise on quality – or courtesy. Nearly nine out of 10 consumers (86%) overall want terrific produce where they shop; 75% value high-quality meats. All survey respondents says a clean, neat store is an important factor in influencing their shopping destination, and nearly all (94%) want to interact with friendly employees.
Another non-negotiable item is the availability of locally grown and packaged foods. By using nearby food sources, grocers add an attraction that matters to eight out of 10 (79%) survey respondents. This year’s ‘very important’ finding (36%) is the same as a year ago, while ‘somewhat important’ registered one point higher (43%) than in 2008. Local matters most to households with no children, who account for 62% of respondents who say ‘very important.’
Concerns about community responsibility are growing in importance too, especially for more mature consumers, who account for 71% of respondents who feel this is ‘very important’. Nearly six in ten consumers (58%) believe stores should support their local areas, and they factor this belief into their selections of grocery retailers.
Forty-eight percent of consumers would like to see ‘more price/cost savings’ at their primary food stores, while 40% would like to see the offering of ‘more locally grown foods’. Also of interest is the desire to see ‘more variety/better assortment/wider choice’ (31%), ‘better customer service/employees’ (24%) and ‘more fresh made foods’ (21%).
As consumers pull back on restaurant visits (33% says they eat out ‘less than once a month’) and find new ways to save, retailers will be in a prime position to meet their changing needs. With most households spending $96 or more each week on groceries, stores that help them save with little compromise will gain a vital edge and help reinforce a long-term relationship that is mutually beneficial.