Recession Changes Shopping, Brand Perception

July 26, 2010

The ongoing economic recession has changed how consumers shop for and perceive food and CPG brands, according to a new study from Deloitte.

Caution will Outlast Recession
Statistics from the “2010 Great American Pantry Study” indicate that even when the current recession finally ends, US consumers plan to maintain the more cautious and bargain-oriented shopping habits they have developed during the past few years.

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For example, 93% of consumers expect to continue spending cautiously even when the economy improves, and 92% have made some kind of change in their food and CPG-related shopping habits. Another 89% feel they have become more resourceful because of the economy, while 84% have become a lot more precise in what they buy.

Loyalty Cards, Coupons Gain Favor
In response to the recession, consumers are increasingly using loyalty cards and coupons, to save money. Eighty-one percent of consumers say it’s fun to see how much they can save using a loyalty card or coupon, while 65% say loyalty cards are an “essential/very important” money saving method.

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Meanwhile, 45% of consumers are using more coupons they get in the mail and 43% are reading/clipping more coupons in the newspaper. Another 43% are using more coupons they get in the store and 39% are downloading more printable coupons.

While none of these individual coupon strategies is employed by more than half of consumers, 67% of consumers are using at least one of the four.

Store Brands Gain Acceptance
Other results of the study show store brands gaining clear acceptance from a large majority of consumers. For example, 80% of consumers believe most store brands are manufactured by traditional national brands, and 74% are more open to trying private labeled store brands than they were two years ago.

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A slight majority of consumers (51%) say there are only two or three brands they can’t live without, and less than half (48%) believe traditional national brand products are superior to private label store brand products. And only one-third of consumers (32%) feel they are often sacrificing when they purchase a private label, rather than national, brand.

Looking ahead, increased consumer receptiveness to store brands will likely remain even after the recession concludes. Only about one-third (35%) of consumers say they intend to purchase more national brands once the economy starts improving.

Four Shopper Segments Emerge
Food/CPG shoppers are dividing into four basic segments as the recession continues, according to the study. These are:

Spectators (38%): The youngest and most-educated segment, spectators are least likely to have been affected by the recession or changed their shopping habits. However, their feelings of resourcefulness have grown.

Sacrificers (22%): The lowest-income segment and most likely to have taken an income hit in the past two years, sacrificers are resentful and bitter about the changes they have made. They take pride in resourcefulness but are also disappointed in having to buy more store brands.

Planners (21%): This segment is most likely to focus on product mix, rather than coupons and discounts, and is most likely to buy large pack sizes although members are least likely to have children in their households.

Super Savers (21%): Most likely to use coupons and take great pride in saving money. Most female segment.

Consumers Save with Generic Brands
Two-thirds of US consumers have bought more generic brands in the past six months to save money, according to the findings of a new Harris Poll. Purchasing more generic brands was by far the most popular money-saving response to the ongoing recession in the past six months, with 65% of consumers saying they have done this. Another 13% have considered doing so.

About the Data: The 2010 American Pantry Study was conducted by Deloitte KnowledgeCo LLC and The Harrison Group. Data was collected online among 2,077 household shoppers and food preparers.

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