Price Becoming More Important Purchase Factor for Women

March 6, 2012

wsl-women-lowest-prices-strategies-mar-2012.jpgThree-quarters of women say it is important to get the lowest price on everything they buy, a 12% point increase from 2008, and a 22% point rise from 2004, according to [pdf] a report released in March 2012 by WSL/Strategic Retail. Almost 7 in 10 regularly use coupons to reduce costs, up 11.5% points from 61% in 2010, while 45% claim they only buy items that are only on sale, representing an 18.4% increase from 38% in 2010. Other ways in which women ensure they obtain the lowest price are by making a point to search online for store discounts before they shop (43%) and using their mobile phones in-store to see if they can find a lower price, before buying (14%).

In-store mobile product browsing certainly appears to be a growing trend: according to a JiWire report released in February 2012, 34% of mobile consumers in Q4 2011 said they had comparison shopped in-store with their mobile device, while February data from Pew suggests 1 in 4 US adult cell phone owners used their devices to look up the price of a product online while they were in a store during this past holiday season.

Meanwhile, according to the WSL/Strategic Retail report, consumers overall are cutting costs by pausing before a purchase to ask themselves if it is a smart use of their money (66%), sticking to brands and stores they can afford (58%), staying out of stores where they might be tempted to overspend (45%) and buying less when they go shopping (43%).

Focus on Price Hurts Brands

Women’s focus on price means that they are thinking hard about the value they attach to name brands. In fact, two-thirds of the respondents agreed that trusted brands are not worth paying more for. Even among affluent respondents (those making over $150k), only 44% said they were willing to pay more for brand names.

Furthermore, roughly one-quarter of women said they used to buy brands they could not afford and have now curtailed that activity, representing a 37% increase from 19% who responded that way in 2010. Affluents do not agree, though: only 15% say they have curtailed their spending on brands they could not earlier afford, compared to 33% of shoppers with incomes under $50k. Among age groups, those under 35 are more likely to have stopped buying brands they cannot afford than those over 35 (31% vs. 25%).

According to October 2011 analysis from comScore, 38% of consumers in 2011 said they switched brands when a peer brand was on sale, up from 33% in 2008.

Youth Struggle to Cover Basic Needs

Data from “How America Shops MegaTrends 2012” indicates that 24% of 18-34-year-olds say they do not have enough money to cover their basic needs, compared to 17% of the 35-54 set and 13% of those over 55. Overall, 52% of American adults say they can only afford the basics, or less, without extras.

Apparently, Americans require an income of more than $150k to be able to afford the basics, the extras, and to also save. In this income group, 88% can afford it all and save, while 12% can only afford the basics. This compares to a surprising 28% of those in the $100-150k income bracket who say they can only afford the basics.

About the Data: The WSL/Strategic Retail survey was conducted December 1-12, 2011, among 1,950 consumers drawn from a nationally representative online sample.


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