Prudence tops shopper strategy list

Prudence is the most popular tactic among cash-strapped consumers as they battle with restricted household budgets as the recession continues, new data released today has found.

Over the course of this month, 94 per cent of shoppers said they were being prudent to manage rising costs, a 12 per cent increase on a year earlier and an 18 per cent rise of January 2009.

According to independent shop research agency Shoppercentric‘s ‘Shopping in the Recession‘ report, economising is the second most popular strategy among consumers, as 92 per cent of 1,000 consumers manage costs in this way, up seven per cent since January 2012.

Following a drop to 84 per cent last July, avoidance has re-emerged as a popular tactic as 87 per cent of shoppers now opt to resist temptation and avoid certain stores or products to save money.

However, consumers who have got the confidence to spend are learning the importance of being savvy as 32 per cent of shoppers now strongly agree that they avoid waste, the largest increase in behaviour type, up 12 per cent on the same period in 2009.

Meanwhile, awareness of pricing has grown 11 per cent since 2009 to 34 per cent while 28 per cent of shoppers emphasised the importance of ‘making things go further‘ versus 17 per cent four years ago.

Iona Carter, Director at Shoppercentric, explained the reasons behind this shift in consumer behaviour.

She said: “Thanks to the prolonged recession period, there has been a fundamental shift in the consumer mind-set and it is clear from these figures that retailers and brands will need to use a range of strategies to persuade shoppers to part with their hard-earned cash this year.

“Savvy behaviours are becoming engrained and consumers are feeling increasingly confident that they can get the most out of their money.

“We fully suspect that even if the economy turns the corner in 2013, after such a sustained downturn, shoppers will not be keen to return to the prolific spending levels of the past.

“So it is important for brands and retailers to react to the changing situation, and to catch up with changing needs.

“Successful marketing strategies will focus on understanding shoppers needs, exploring what value means beyond price point or promotion and look to generate interest in-store through more creative retail environments – or even more interactive transactional sites online. “

Avoiding expensive and upmarket shops is a strategy employed by 30 per cent of respondents while seeking out bargains and discounts is an increasingly popular move.

In a bid to save money, 32 per cent of shoppers said they seek out promotions compared with 23 per cent in 2009, though winning ongoing price wars is not enough to safeguard retailers from losses, warned Carter.

“Although promotions and discounting will still play an important role in retail strategy – and to shoppers, it‘s a tactic that the providers can ill-afford to sustain indefinitely and heavily rely on,” she explained.

“It is resetting shoppers price expectations and affecting the bottom line. There are other ways to help and inspire shoppers to spend and provide a good value and quality experience.”


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