Price is not a key driver of store selection, TCC UK shopper study reveals

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A study of 1,530 UK shoppers by TCC Global, a leading global retail marketing company, has revealed that price is only the fourth most important driver of supermarket store selection in the UK.

Just 34% of Brits see ‘low everyday prices’ as the key factor behind their choice of supermarket, placing it behind location (48%), range of products and services (40%) and habit and familiarity (39%) in the minds of shoppers.

Bryan Roberts, global insight director at TCC Global, commented: “Supermarkets have naturally focused on pricing as a tactic to regain the market share they have lost to hard discounters, in the process creating speculation around a so-called ‘price war’. Virtually all competitors in the market have sharpened pricing to some extent, yet these results prove there could be reason to rethink this strategy, with price relatively low on shoppers’ priorities.

“We are already seeing a change in tack from some corners of the market. Aldi and Lidl have recognised how high demand for their services isn’t necessarily being reflected in their sales due to location issues, and as such are in the midst of an aggressive period of expansion. Aldi alone are on course to reach their target of 1,000 store openings by 2022 to win consumers who would like to use their stores but currently can’t physically reach them.”

Almost half (48%) of UK shoppers rank location as the most important factor in their choice of supermarket, with just 3% of shoppers investing extra time to reach a preferred store, usually an M&S (14% of respondents had gone out of their way to make a trip here). This is in line with global trends, with 51% of global consumers ranking a store’s proximity as the primary reason for shopping there.

The importance of location leads into other drivers of store selection, of which habit is one. 39% of UK shoppers surveyed responded with ‘I always shop there’ as their primary reason driving their choice of supermarket, while 31% value a familiar layout in-store. The British are creatures of habit, and even more so than their global counterparts, of which 36% rank habitual reasons as their main reason for store selection.

The report finds that a ‘good selection of food products’ is the second most important factor for shoppers after geographic convenience, with 40% of survey participants quoting this as the key driver behind their choice of supermarket. Meanwhile, empty shelves represent a significant bugbear for almost a third of shoppers (31%).

Roberts added: “Clearly, shoppers’ interpretation of what a ‘good range’ constitutes might vary widely, but it is noteworthy that the recent success of Aldi and Lidl has required both players to bring in swathes of new items and introduce new features like in-store bakeries.

“Well-stocked shelves are another key determinant of where shoppers choose to go, with many Brits choosing their supermarket because of this factor. Periods of underperformance from some of the world’s largest retailers – Walmart, Tesco and Carrefour spring to mind – have been closely linked to availability problems, with either systems or manpower issues leading to gaps on the shelves.”