Consumers are beginning to define value differently-- more often attributing value to price, whereas in the previous couple of months their responses indicated a balance between quality and price--according to "The Checkout" shopper-experience study from The Integer Group and M/A/R/C Research.
"Across all channels, shoppers continue to report buying cheaper items lately, compared to three months ago," said Randy Wahl, EVP, M/A/R/C. Wahl expects that the trend will continue through the current holiday hoopla, “as consumers are trading down, using purchasing tools like coupons, and seeking out cheaper prices.”
Not surprisingly, then, mass market retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target, are showing a five-point increase in the percentage of shoppers visiting them more often than in previous months; they also have the best conversion rate, with nine out of ten shoppers leaving the store having made a purchase.
Hardest hit by the recession are electronics and department stores--they have the largest loss of shoppers and the worst conversion rate, with about half of shoppers leaving without making a purchase.
Top "Value Brands"
Three out of the top 5 brands that consumers say best communicate value to them are retailers: Overall, they consider Wal-Mart and Target top value brands, with Sony, Kroger, and Kellogg's close behind.
Consumers also ranked top value brands within their respective category, with Nike being on top for clothing and shoes, Suave for cosmetics and toiletries, Honda for cars, accessories and parts, Sony for electronics, and Kellogg's for the food and beverage category.
"The findings suggest that consumers still seem to be buying their favorite brands, but are looking elsewhere for a better price," said Craig Elston, SVP, The Integer Group.
"For example, a consumer may not want to compromise on a trusted brand such as Nike, so they will decide to buy at Wal-Mart instead of a department store in order to save money, allowing them the comfort of still being able to purchase what they believe to be their top value brand."
About the data: Data for "The Checkout" is from a nationally representative survey of 1,200 US adults conducted monthly by M/A/R/C Research and Integer. Consumers are asked about their shopping attitudes, shopping behaviors, and economic outlook. Topics range from criteria shoppers use to select retailers to which in-store stimulus is most likely to drive purchase, to factors that might lead shoppers to leave an aisle empty-handed. The Checkout is available for download at Integer's blog or M/A/R/C's website.
Bio: Ann Handley is the Chief Content Officer of MarketingProfs.com, which provides strategic and tactical marketing know-how. She also blogs at her acclaimed personal web log. Follow her on Twitter @marketingprofs.
Photo credit: dave416