What is the “smart” grocery shopper doing?

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 17th October 2008

International food and grocery expert IGD has published a definitive analysis of UK shoppers’ response to the credit crunch, confirming that food shoppers are economising on their food shop and spending more time bargain hunting, but believe this is not the same as down-trading.

The ‘Adapting to Change’ report also discovered that shoppers have been more willing to buy healthy and ethically-focused foods where they see genuine value.

“With the surge in interest in the provenance and ethics of food which has occurred since the last major downturn, it seems that shoppers are scrutinising value, but they are not compromising their values,” said IGD chief executive Joanne Denney-Finch.

“Overall, more than half of shoppers say they have been economising over the past six months and yet only one in ten feels they have compromised on quality. By comparison, one in five feel they have improved their food experience – smart shoppers are putting in more effort to maintain the quality of what they eat,” Ms Denney-Finch added.

Shopper destinations

The report – based on a survey of just over 1,000 shoppers revealed that, over the last six months:

* One in five (21%) shoppers say they are walking to the shops more often
* One in four (25%) is spending more time over their shopping trips
* More than one in four (27%) claim to be shopping around more

Diet and shopping basket

The report found that the contents of the shopping basket have been altered in response to economic turbulence.

* One in five shoppers (19%) say they are buying more low-priced own-label products
* One in five shoppers (20%) is choosing prepared food less often
* A similar number (19%) is opting for more fresh or chilled food

The last six months have seen 22% of shoppers buying more foods for health benefits seemingly at the expense of treats, with about one-fifth reporting they had cut back on ‘treats’. Overall, 32% of shoppers have eaten more fruit and vegetables than six months ago, and a fifth ate more fish.

The interest in ethical products has gone up despite the credit crunch, with 17% of shoppers claiming they bought more Fairtrade products than six months ago and 22% of shoppers buying more products that promise high animal welfare standards.

DIY mindset

The report established that shoppers are exhibiting a greater desire to grow, prepare or cook food for themselves.

* One in ten shoppers (10%) say they have started growing their own fruit or vegetables at home over the last six months
* 18% are making lunch at home to take to work more often
* 22% of shoppers are planning meals more carefully, and 19% are cooking smaller meals

The report also revealed a number of shoppers were responding to conditions by working longer hours, buying second-hand goods, car sharing and baking their own bread.

“Economising is not the same as downtrading. In recent years shoppers’ engagement with food has been transformed and they are still investing in brands or ranges which reinforce their values at the right price and finding a way to get what they want without compromising standards,” Ms Denney- Finch concluded.