New research has uncovered that shopping behaviour and shopper attitudes have changed since the onset of recession
Tamworth, Staffordshire, 29th June 2010. Shopping Behaviour Xplained Ltd have just completed a significant piece of research that compared shopper behaviour and shopper attitudes between the Boom period in 2007 and the Bust period 2009/2010. The project involved analysing the behaviour of more than 8,500 shoppers shopping a variety of chilled and ambient food categories in a number of supermarkets. In addition, tailored interviews have been studied to understand more about attitudes and opinions. The researchers subsequently compared the observational information and interview responses between the different time periods.
Managing Director of Shopping Behaviour Xplained Ltd, Mr Phillip Adcock explains “2008 saw the start of the recession in the UK. The credit crunch made it harder for Shoppers to borrow money, buy a house and generally keep the up with the credit life style that they had previously enjoyed. We continuously see in the Press that cutting back and reducing spending have become key areas of focus for shoppers. However, we wanted to know whether actual shopping behaviour at the fixture and attitudes at the moment of truth had actually changed.
The first thing we discovered what that there has been a significant shift in the profiles of shopping party in the supermarkets. In these more austere times, more shoppers visit the supermarket with partners and/or children with them. The ‘Family’ shopper now accounts for 25% of footfall at the fixture. These shoppers have the family together during the shopping journey. Our evidence suggests that as families tighten their belts, a trip to the supermarket is a form of low cost activity that serves as entertainment. This is a phenomena we see every time we undertake shopper research in DIY stores (particularly on Sundays) with shoppers taking themselves and their families out to somewhere that needn’t cost any money.
Going back to the supermarket environment, these shopping families are spending longer at fixture in 2009 than was the case in 2007. More of the purchase decisions are considered and there is significantly less grab and go activity. The Brand that they have always bought is not so readily selected now as other factors have started to outweigh traditional brand value. We have strong evidence to show that Price is now more important than ever with Private Label becoming a more practical solution. This particular aspect is in line with the IGD studies of shopper trends: Price becoming more and more important and influence of brand name suffering as a direct result. There was also evidence that the supermarkets are now trusted more as brands in their own right. This combined with the fact that the supermarket sub-brands such as Tesco ‘Finest’ and Sainsbury’s ‘Be Good To Yourself’ have significant emotional brand equity in their own right”
On this point Mr Adcock goes on do say: “We use a unique set of research techniques that allow shopper emotions to be measured both accurately and at the real moment of decision, in-store at fixture. The trend with regard to people’s emotions in supermarkets is that as a result of the recession and as more and more categories become commoditised with a lack of any shopper ‘experience’ and ‘retail theatre’ then shoppers themselves become more business minded and less influenceable. In essence they are becoming less happy and more greedy, even angry in some cases. What this means is that the recessionary shopper needs are different to what they wanted in-store in the more affluent times. There is now significantly less ‘throw caution to the wind’ buy it anyway activity. Shoppers are now examining the financial implication of more of the things they buy.
In terms of evaluating specific items in-store, shoppers spent more time doing so in 2007 than in 2009. They now stand back from a category and survey their choices across the entire category. Decisions are made more on price or perceived value than on branding or more subtle on pack information.
Another finding from the research was that shoppers shopping alone (more than 50% of the total sample) have adopted what we believe to be significantly different set of behaviours in-store. These ‘Singles’ have become much more impulsive making snap decisions at the fixture. This is a significant move from the discerning shopping behaviour previously favoured by this demographic. What is a big concern is that single shoppers at the fixture are seemingly ill equipped to purchase. There has been a significant increase in shoppers mid way round the store without a trolley or a basket. This suggests more of a top up shop mindset where they only want a few things so they don’t need a trolley. However we also have indicative evidence that the average number of items these shoppers go on to purchase has actually increased.
We believe there are new and significant opportunities within the supermarkets to better meet the needs of the shoppers currently at fixture. Family groups want some form of experience. There are good indications that shoppers may even be tempted to visit different supermarkets if the promise of an experience is sufficiently attractive. However, in their local supermarket, they are more business minded and use a different set of emotional drivers with which to arrive at purchase decisions. Single shoppers, being more impulsive can be encouraged to treat or reward themselves, basically to cheer themselves up when things in the world aren’t all that rosy.”
To finish with, Adcock comments: “This research is based on a significant overall supermarket sample, but experience has taught us that shoppers have different attitudes and exhibit different behaviours towards individual categories. However, at a headline level shoppers shop differently in Boom years compared with how they behaved in leaner times. More family groups in-store. Single shoppers who visit more often, but intend to only buy a few items each visit. Shoppers have a different set of emotional drivers with traditional brand values being substituted by a hard nosed and greedy mindset.
There are a host of significant opportunities for supermarkets and brands, but the main finding from our research is that what shoppers wanted in 2007 isn’t what they want now.”
Phillip Adcock is Managing Director of Shopping Behaviour Xplained Ltd, one of Europe’s most forward thinking specialist shopper research organisations. They have undertaken shopping behaviour studies for many leading retailers and brand marketing companies around the World. If you would like more information about this research initiative or shopping behaviour research in general contact Phillip Adcock; telephone 01827 56970 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, visit www.sbxl.co.uk
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