Among store appeals, savings still count: NGA-SG study

February 14, 2013

Sure, people want well-rounded stores. But who wants to pay more than necessary?

This is the fourth of five stories on The Lempert Report this week revealing some key findings from the National Grocers Association-SupermarketGuru 2013 Consumer Panel Survey.  The NGA Show has just concluded in Las Vegas, where our CEO Phil Lempert presented study insights to the nation’s independent grocers.

Promotional prices matter less today than other enduring appeals, as the economy begins to ease—and people that forgo other luxuries feel they at least could buy the supermarket foods they want.

For the first time in recent memory, fewer than half of consumers (49.1%) say items on sale/money-saving specials are “very important.” Down steadily from 60.0% in 2010, 55.0% in 2011, and 54.8% in 2012, the two lowest income groups ($85,000 and less per year) keep this measure as high as it is.

But this drop isn’t a sign to become less price-competitive or cut back on deals, which people do love. It suggests, that other appeals endure and can influence the selection of a primary supermarket. To 91.3%, sales and specials remain “very/somewhat important” (including 42.2% “somewhat”). 

Primary supermarkets hold their own in promotional battles, say 35.4% of consumers, who rate their favorite food stores “excellent” on this measure, up from 34.7% in 2012. 

How else do people save?  Answering a question that allowed multiple responses (so they add up to more than 100%) the top six activities are:

  • 46.0% stock up on an item when they find a bargain 
  • 42.0% look in newspapers for grocery specials
  • 29.3% participate in supermarket frequent shopper savings or club programs
  • 28.6% use cents-off coupons
  • 22.7% buy products on special they hadn’t planned to buy
  • 21.0% buy store brands or lower-priced brands instead of national brands 

The recession riveted consumers on private label.  By today, 64.3% say store brands are “very/somewhat important,” down from 69.0% in 2010; the “very important” component is 20.3%, down from 25.0% in 2010.

To raise the stance of store brands, supermarkets could refine pricing, branding and assortments to give shoppers reasons beyond savings to seek them out. Today’s biggest advocates of private label are: consumers 24 and under (29.0% “very important”); large households of 5 or more (26.7%); households earning $45,000 or less per year (26.2%); Hispanics (26.2%) and African-Americans (23.7%).