Online Exclusives

Courting the Cost-Conscious Consumer

By Joanna Cosgrove, Online Editor | July 5, 2012

Insights into how grocery shopping habits and behaviors have changed in light of the recession.

The battered economy has seen light at the end of the recessionary tunnel however recession-scarred consumers are still operating in thrift mode, according to “Reaching Today’s Cost-Conscious Consumer,” a research report* sponsored by MaxPoint Interactive.  
Average monthly expenditures on groceries steadily increasedamong the general population from pre- to post-recession from $250.94 in August 2007 to $277 in August 2011. Among Moms, it steadily increased from $311.95 to $341.14 during the same timeframe. Though the average grocery budget has increased, consumers are shopping for sales more often, using coupons more, and buying store brand and generic products. Nearly three in four respondents surveyed reported making changes to their grocery shopping habits within the last year, becoming more cost-conscious before and during their trips.
Despite the fluctuating cost of gas, more than 40% of Moms and those age 25-54 indicated they were more apt to shop closer to home but weren’t averse to shopping in multiply places such as Wal-Mart and discount stores to get the best prices and deals. But store loyalty hasn’t completely vanished, as three in ten consumers indicated they still shop at the same store but use more coupons and buy brands on sale.
Shoppers also reported a greater inclination to get the most out of coupons and sales. “Close to half of all respondents and 50.4% of Moms said they clip coupons and scan their loyalty cards regularly for savings,” MaxPoint said. “On average, 26% of respondents use some form of digital coupons.”
Moms were most likely to use digital coupons, with nearly a third using digital methods to find coupons. Three in four respondents said they were more likely to try a new product at the grocery store if they have a coupon for it.
When it came to what they were spending their money on, two in five respondents indicated they were purchasing more store brand or generic itemsnow than compared with this time last year; 53.4% reported purchasing the same amount.  

Researchers also found the majority of those who purchased organic products had not changed their organic purchasing habits in the last year. However, cost-conscious consumers said they cut back on purchases of several  types of product including sweets (bakery items, candy, and desserts including mixes and pre-made frozen desserts), magazines/books/DVDs, prime cuts of meat and seafood, and drink items like beer/wine/spirits and soda and sports drinks.
“Due to the economy, consumers are shifting their shopping behaviors to get more for their money,” said Dianne Kremer, senior analyst at BIGinsight. “As consumers feel a pinch from rising gas and food prices, they are becoming more creative with how they spend their grocery budgets – shopping closer to home, going to multiple stores to get the best deals and looking online for coupons and offers.”
Shopping Prep on the Rise
In addition to clipping coupons and researching products online, today’s consumer has increased their pre-shopping trip prep work by committing to sensible meal planning and sticking to a carefully constructed shopping list.

Sixty-two percent of respondents said they regularly made lists before going grocery shopping and more than half make their list using general product categories, rather than specific brands. Three in five decided which brands to purchase while they are in the store based on price, coupons and special promotions.
The digital connection to grocery shopping habits did not end with sourcing coupons. More than 90% of adults 18+, adults 25–54 and Moms reported regularly researching products online before purchasing them in-store. Moms were also the most likely group of respondents to use digital methods to find recipes when preparing for a trip to the grocery store.
“Digital is reshaping the grocery shopping experience in the post-recession economy, as consumers turn to new channels to help plan their shopping trips,” said Gretchen Joyce, MaxPoint Interactive COO. “By understanding what motivates today’s consumer, brands can tailor their shopper marketing strategies to ensure they are gaining mindshare and winning at the shelf-level.”

*“Reaching Today’s Cost-Conscious Consumer” was derived from the BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey, February 2007 through February 2012 (Average N = 8,500), the Media Behaviors & Influence™ Study, December 2011 (N = 24,578) and the MaxPoint Interactive Cost Conscious Grocery Shopper Survey, March 2012 (N = 1,006). Respondents to the MaxPoint Interactive Cost-Conscious Grocery Shopper Survey were adults 18+ who act as the primary grocery shopper for their household and purchase groceries in a physical store rather than online.