Shopper Optimism Slowly Increasing

“Some shoppers are retaining their frugal ways, others are spending more freely across the board and others still are spending more on some types of products, but remaining tight fisted about others,” notes SymphonyIRI CEO.

SymphonyIRI has launched its Quarterly MarketPulse Survey Series, which offers consumer packaged goods (CPG), retail and healthcare companies a comprehensive look at shopper behaviors.

The results show fewer consumers are switching brands to catch a sale and trading down to private label options, hinting at glimmers of optimism in a marketplace still marked by high levels of caution and frugality, noted SymphonyIRI.convenience store customer

However, the number of consumers engaging in preplanning activities, such as coupon clipping and list making, remain virtually unchanged and are very much a part of consumers’ grocery shopping rituals.

These results point to conservative, yet cautiously optimistic, shopping strategies that characterize SymphonyIRI’s inaugural MarketPulse survey, which is an evolution of its Competing in a Transforming Economy analysis series. SymphonyIRI released survey results on the first day of its Summit 2011 conference, themed “Gaining the Competitive Edge” at Miami Beach’s Fontainebleau Hotel, March 28-30.

“An economy in transition to recovery is as tricky to navigate for CPG, retail and healthcare leaders as an economy moving into recession,” said John Freeland, president and CEO, SymphonyIRI. “Some shoppers are retaining their frugal ways, others are spending more freely across the board and others still are spending more on some types of products, but remaining tight fisted about others. They are also re-evaluating where they purchase their products and updating their definition of value.”

“This review of product and retail value proposition provides an outstanding opportunity for manufacturers and retailers willing to analyze carefully discrete shopper microsegments and understand the motivations and drivers of each,” continued Freeland. “SymphonyIRI’s new quarterly MarketPulse survey will provide decision makers with an important barometer on shopper activities.”

Statistics from SymphonyIRI’s MarketPulse survey include:

•60% of shoppers are eating out less often, as compared to 65% at this time last year

• 52% try to make personal care products last longer, versus 63% in 2009

• 49% visit hair salons less often, as opposed to 55% last year

Still, grocery shopping is characterized by very deliberate and well thought out behaviors:

• Two out of three shoppers today are making shopping lists prior to visiting the store, consistent with trends in 2010

•Also unchanged during the past year, 56% are reading store fliers either before or at the store

Other survey results indicate that consumers are shifting back to their favorite brands, though value remains essential:

• 38% of consumers in 2011 are giving up their favorite brands to save money, versus 46% in 2010

• 64% in 2011 state price has become a more important consideration than convenience in brand purchases, a decline of six points versus 2010

• 36% of consumers are actively seeking out private label brands to save money today, versus 44% in 2010

SymphonyIRI’s MarketPulse survey also researched respondents’ predictions regarding their personal financial situations over the next 12 months.

• Only slightly more consumers feel their home real estate value will improve in the coming year, with 25% in 2011, versus 22% in 2010. The ranks of those anticipating a significant decline in value shrank four points during the same period. Findings both years showed 40% of consumers expected the value of their real estate to remain unchanged.

• More consumers expect at least a little bit of upward movement in the value of their investments in the coming year. Very few expect significant improvement (less than 4% each year), but one in four consumers expect their investments will improve somewhat in 2011, versus one in five consumers last year. Of equal importance, fewer consumers expect significant declines to occur.

• Prospects for building savings have shown glimmers of hope in the past year. While the ranks of those expecting to increase what they are able to save remains unchanged, fewer consumers expect their ability to save will deteriorate. Today 13% of consumers expect their ability to save will worsen in the coming year, versus 18% in 2010.

In other findings, consumers are beginning to embrace new media, such as social networks and brand Websites. In the coming year, 9% of consumers expect that their brand decisions will be influenced by information gathered via Website or e-mail, versus 5% for blogs or social networking sites. These figures remain largely unchanged versus 2010.

Source: SymphonyIRI

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