A look at the perceptions of the global grocery consumer

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 9th October 2009

A new global grocery shopping survey has revealed that six in ten grocery shoppers would go out of their way to shop ‘green’, 36% of shoppers want nothing more than to ‘get in and get out’ and three quarters of grocery shoppers think items are over-priced.

The findings, from a survey of 6,700 consumers across 10 markets, were released by global market intelligence firm Synovate last Friday.

Mark Berry, Synovate’s Executive Vice President of Shopper Insights research in the United States, said grocery shopping is something most people have to do, some reluctantly and some with a sense of anticipation and pleasure.

“Grocery retailers need to take into account myriad attitudes and approaches, and make the experience satisfying for customers and profitable for the company,” he advised. “Like all marketers, to get that balance right, they need to know how people feel, their habits and what they like.”

Aisle style
Grocery retail marketing is specialised because the act of buying groceries is so necessary in most people’s lives – they walk into the store with the intent to buy and at least some idea of what to buy. Accordingly, price becomes a major differentiation point. Indeed, 58 per cent choose the supermarket that has the biggest discounts and 62% maintain that they will switch brands if there is a cheaper alternative. And consumers are none too pleased with current prices, with three-quarters contending that they are too high and eight in ten believing their government should do more to keep prices down.

However, 40% of people say they are spending less than they did 12 months ago.

As for shopping plans, a big weekly shop in the supermarket is the ‘norm’ but this does represent a generalisation. Nonetheless, the overall results showed 39% of respondents across the 10 markets are most likely to do ‘one big weekly shop plus extras’.

Berry added that what has transpired over the past year or so has been truly extraordinary and was causing a re-evaluation of consumer priorities.

“It’s maybe only once or twice a decade – if that – when events occur that make the consumer rethink everything they do related to virtually all of the money they spend or invest,” he noted. “Of course this means they are rethinking or considering all the products they buy or don’t buy. This runs the full gamut from big decisions like cars and TVs, all the way through to frozen food, water or coffee.”

“Retailers’ every little promotional decision become important in this climate. It has also reinforced how powerful the core proposition and positioning of a brand can be – take Wal-Mart’s performance as an example.”

Green groceries and sustainable supermarkets
Clearly ‘green’ is a major consideration for any business. And, with 62% agreeing they would go out of their way to shop at an environmentally-friendly supermarket, that consideration is not misplaced.

The drive for sustainability is seen in all ten markets, although shoppers in areas where ‘green’ practices were already commonplace were less likely to be interested purely because it was a given.

“In the last few years we have seen more efforts – and very public efforts – by retailers to bring in environmentally-friendly products and policies like fewer plastic bags and so on,” Berry said.

Grocery shoppers are also looking for local food, with two-thirds having a preference for local brands over foreign alternatives.

Other findings:
* Online grocery shopping is still only practiced by a very small segment, only 1% across 10 markets. The French were most likely to buy online at 4%. However, 42% agreed they would buy online if they were sure of security and that they would receive the highest quality food.
* Six in ten people shop with a list