The report U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends has sobering statistics for grocery retailers and food retail brands alike.
The consumer has been eating out less and preparing more foods at home since late 2008. What is happening now is the consumer is seeing the savings and is going through behavioral changes that I along with other pundits feel will stay even when the economy improves. Some of these trends that both FMI as well as Symphony IRI have been seeing are:
- Saving money through cooking more at home
- Comparison shopping, whether it be going from one store to the other or through the use of the internet to plan their shopping list
- Store selection based on products and brands. For example a consumer may go to Whole Foods for produce and organic meats, then go to Trader Joes for their unique Trader Joes brand grocery items and then go to Costco for staples such as paper goods and other bulk non food purchases
- Brand preference such as buying branded and private label products and many times interchangeably based on price, promotions, coupons, etc.
FMI CEO Leslie Sarasin notes that the eating home trend is also making consumers realize that "that the food they eat at home is healthier than eating away from home." It is clear supermarkets are positioned to help their customers save money and help them make healthier choices when it comes to food."FMI says a consumer selects their primary shopping store for the following reasons:
2. Quality produce
3. Store sales and promotions
Today the consumer is becoming a "mission shoppers" This is a new termed coined recently. Shoppers on a mission are less likely to be buying items on impulse. That means they buy what they need and have resurrected what our parents and grandparents used to use: a shopping list.
The Internet, as well as shopping sites, a good example being Pricing Central, are enabling price comparison from your computer. Sites like Peapod also facilitate creating a shopping list on line as well as have it delivered to your door. Collecting coupons is growing and once again the internet makes this easy by using the many sites on the internet, one being CouponMom. Try this: Google the search term "food coupons to print" and see how many sites are out there… it is astonishing.
When customers do enter the store more are participating in frequent shopper programs. Customers like this due to the extra savings AND stores like this because they can analyze who buys what, where and when. However more on how supermarkets are using frequent shopper programs to collect data in a future article. .
Finally, let's not forget Private Label, actually now being referred to as Private Brands. They save money and brands like Trader Joes and Whole Foods 365 brand are equal to and many times better than the national brand.
The consumer's shopping habits are changing quickly and smart retailers and brands need to be one step ahead of the trends if they expect to survive and grow in these challenging economic times.