Shopping trips are more carefully planned and consumers refer to
broadsheets and specials as well as comparing prices online before drawing up
their shopping lists. “Our research revealed that the more disciplined spouse
tends to do the weekly shopping as they are less likely to indulge in impulse
purchases,” says BMi Research CEO Gareth Pearson. “Similarly, consumers have
recognised the kid pester factor, with the result that many people are choosing
to leave children at home while shopping.”

Once in-store, shoppers have less brand loyalty and are increasingly
gravitating towards products that offer increased perceived value, says
Pearson, adding that midmonth there is a propensity to buy private label
nonperishable items. Smaller pack sizes are given preference while products
such as bath oils, bath salts and luxury cereals – perceived as luxury items –
are falling off many shopping lists. Though shoppers will still consider luxury
items for special occasions, in the absence of a special occasion they are increasingly
giving preference to canned and frozen items rather than fresh food given their
longer shelf lives.

Loyalty cards continue to be well received, though most shoppers don’t
have positive associations with coupons.

Pearson reports that spaza shops are growing their offering and
providing more competitive pricing as they increase volumes. Consumers have
also started to factor in false economies. “Increasingly, consumers,
particularly at the lower end of the market, will weigh up the transport costs before
deciding to shop further away from home,” says Pearson.

The most significant post-shopping trend revealed by BMi’s research
concerned product usage, with consumers increasingly aware of wastage and using
expensive products more sparingly. “We discovered that there is a big focus on
breakfast: consumers want to ensure their children eat a healthy meal before
school but cost has become a factor. A growing number of consumers are starting
to avoid branded cereals, for instance, as the price point is just too high,”
says Pearson.

Multipurpose products, such as multipurpose cleaners, are rapidly
replacing multiple individual products while refill packages are in greater
demand than ever. “Even high-end consumers who have not traditionally been
particularly price sensitive are becoming increasingly frugal and using less
cleaning product to ensure it goes further,” he says.

Pearson believes consumer spend will continue to be under pressure until
disposable income levels start improving. Marketers therefore need to put more
effort into promotions and offering consumers bigger discounts. His advice to
marketers and brand managers is to spend time understanding the needs of
consumers, in particular the most appropriate pack size offered at the right
price point.

“Shoppers have become a great deal more sophisticated in recent years as
well as more health conscious,” he says. “Things like including the nutritional
value of food items has become more important.”

Source: Business Day Live