Savvy shopper behaviours are becoming engrained, Shoppercentric study finds

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UK households are continuing to and increasingly using a wide variety of strategies to help cope with restricted household budgets and rising costs, according to a study by shopper research agency, Shoppercentric. 

Shopper strategies the study identified include:

  • Prudence – January 2013 saw 94% of shoppers adopting this approach making it the most popular strategy. This figure is up by 12% since last January and an increase of 8% since January 2009
  • Economising – the second most popular strategy in January 2013 and one being applied by 92% of shoppers – an increase of 7% since January 2012
  • Avoidance – figures for this strategy were consistent at 87% in January and April 2012 but following a drop to 84% in July (suggesting shoppers were not as focused on avoiding particular stores or products) this number has increased significantly to 89% in January 2013 suggesting avoidance – or resisting temptation, is back on the agenda for a vast number of shoppers 
  • Active shopping – the tactic of shopping around to find the best prices has seen a resurgence this January. Figures dropped from 84% back in January 2009 to a low of 76% in July 2010, but then saw a steady increase to 85% in January 2012. Despite a small drop in July last year (to 81%), figures are now at an all-time high of 87%

Behaviours are more entrenched – with higher levels of ‘strongly agree’ compared with previous years. This reflects the continuing need to be savvy:

  • 2013 compared with 2009 – the start of the recession
  • Wastage – With 32% of January 2013 shoppers strongly agreeing they now avoid waste, this is the largest increase in behaviour type. It is a 12% increase on 2009 figures
  • Pricing – 34% of today’s shoppers are more aware of pricing than they used to be (versus 23% back in 2009) – an increase of 11%
  • Making things go further – 28% of shoppers are trying to get more out of their purchases versus 17% back in 2009
  • Promotions – 32% of 2013 shoppers seek out promotions that save money rather than give them more of the same. Back in January 2009 at the start of the recession this stood at 23%
  • Avoiding expensive/upmarket shops – 30% of shoppers now stay away from the shops known to be more exclusive and costly. This is a significant increase from 21% back in 2009. 

“Thanks to the prolonged recession period, there has been a fundamental shift in the consumer mind-set and it is clear from these figures that retailers and brands will need to use a range of strategies to persuade shoppers to part with their hard-earned cash this year,” said Iona Carter, director at Shoppercentric.  

“Savvy behaviours are becoming engrained and consumers are feeling increasingly confident they can get the most out of their money. We fully suspect even if the economy turns the corner in 2013, after such a sustained downturn, shoppers will not be keen to return to the prolific spending levels of the past. So it is important for brands and retailers to react to the changing situation, and to catch up with changing needs. Successful marketing strategies will focus on understanding shoppers needs, exploring what value means beyond price point or promotion and look to generate interest in-store through more creative retail environments – or even more interactive transactional sites online.

“Although promotions and discounting will still play an important role in retail strategy – and to shoppers, it’s a tactic the providers can ill-afford to sustain indefinitely and heavily rely on. It is resetting shoppers price expectations and affecting the bottom line. There are other ways to help and inspire shoppers to spend and provide a good value and quality experience.”