‘Price’ tops shoppers’ list on new SG|NGA survey

Articles
February 05, 2009

‘Price’ tops shoppers’ list on new SG|NGA survey

Consumers changed their relationships with food and beverage, and the stores and restaurants that provide them, after the economy’s slash and burn of 2008. Visits and spending shrank, as people began to save in many ways that seem likely to stick. They tightened their shopping plans, retail outlays, and eating and nutrition strategies to grow fitter and weather these tough times. As a result, shoppers seek retail improvements in the areas of price/cost savings, service, and assortments, especially healthful, locally grown foods, according to survey results of the 2009 National Grocers Association-SupermarketGuru Consumer Panel. People are eating out less—and demanding more of supermarkets. Price is currently their #1 issue—even with the potential economic lift from the new U.S. presidency and a stimulus package moving through Congress. Families dislike deficits in their budgets. The panel shows most households spend $96 or more each week on groceries—and stores that help them save with little compromise will build a foundational trust.

Consumers changed their relationships with food and beverage, and the stores and restaurants that provide them, after the economy’s slash and burn of 2008. Visits and spending shrank, as people began to save in many ways that seem likely to stick.

They tightened their shopping plans, retail outlays, and eating and nutrition strategies to grow fitter and weather these tough times.

As a result, shoppers seek retail improvements in the areas of price/cost savings, service, and assortments, especially healthful, locally grown foods, according to survey results of the 2009 National Grocers Association-SupermarketGuru Consumer Panel.   People are eating out less—and demanding more of supermarkets.

Price is currently their #1 issue—even with the potential economic lift from the new U.S. presidency and a stimulus package moving through Congress. Families dislike deficits in their budgets. The panel shows most households spend $96 or more each week on groceries—and stores that help them save with little compromise will build a foundational trust.

How absolutely important is price today?  The survey shows store features that have classically driven store selection are less important now. Among them:  availability of high-quality meats, seafood, fruits and vegetables; nutritional and health information; organic foods; and consistent product freshness in perishables and center-store categories. 

Concurrently, consumers say that low prices, sale items and money-saving specials, frequent shopper programs and private labels have soared on their priority lists. The findings represent current thoughts of 2,145 chief household shoppers polled between November 2008 and January 2009 on what appeals to them (or not) about supermarkets, as well as their purchase influences, eating habits and nutritional concerns. 

Key insights include:
• An overwhelming 84% of survey respondents say they buy the majority of foods in the supermarket. Mass merchandiser stores (including supercenters and conventional discount formats) attract 7%, and clubs 3%. The three lowest income tiers made up the highest numbers of respondents who primarily shop supermarkets: 15% of the $25,001-$45,000 tier, 14% of the $45,001-$65,000 tier, and 11% of the $25,000 or less tier.
• Some classics slide: Nearly 9 out of 10 consumers (86%) overall want terrific produce where they shop, yet this measure fell 5 points from 91% a year ago.  Nearly three out of four consumers (73%) call high-quality meats ‘very important,’ down 4 points from 77% a year ago.  Confidence that a store sells foods in time for optimal taste and goodness is ‘very important’ to 83% of consumers, down 2 points from 85% a year earlier.
• Price rules. The majority (52%) calls price ‘very important’ in deciding where to buy food—versus 45% a year ago, and 41% in 2003. Today, nearly everyone else (45%) calls price ‘somewhat important.’  Stores that fail to ensure accuracy in shelf pricing will upset 97% of shoppers who feel this is an important concern.  Nearly six in ten (58%) say sales/specials are ‘very important’ factors in where they shop today—up 7 points from a year ago.  Also, 63% say frequent shopper programs or savings clubs are important savings tools, up 4 points from 59% a year earlier. And 69% of consumers call private label important when deciding where to shop, up 7 points from 62% a year ago.