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Consumers begin to take discounts for granted

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New research from Buckingham Research has confirmed that shoppers are now beginning to take it for granted that they will get special offers and discounts on the products they buy. The research focuses on supermarket purchasing and on hi-tech products, but also provides a window on consumers' attitudes to retail spending in general. Key findings include:

Grocery shoppers now expect special offers as standard. Only 8% of respondents said that they did not anticipate special offers, such as 'buy one, get one free', '3 for 2' or '20% off', across every shopping experience:
  • 89% of grocery shoppers now expect special offers as standard

  • 32% thought that special offers were now a standard part of shops trying to compete against each other to attract customers

  • 18% considered special offers to be 'the norm'

  • 18% said they anticipated special offers as part of any shopping experience as they always like to look for a good deal

  • 16% of people said that they expected special offers as a result of their own monetary and economic concerns, with 75% specifically referencing the economic downturn/credit crunch

  • 4% stated they would not use a store that did not offer any special deals


"These results prove that the recession is actively impacting on our expectations as shoppers. Now more than ever, we expect retailers to compete for our custom with special deals like BOGOFs and cut-price promotions," says Lucy Pedrick, research director at Buckingham Research. "While only a relatively small number of respondents said that they would avoid stores that failed to offer these deals, retailers should be wary of failing to meet shoppers' expectations."

Consumers are still likely to purchase energy-efficient technology products. Despite the ongoing credit crunch, consumers are still seeking energy-efficient products when choosing technology and telecommunications products, although many are waiting until it is absolutely necessary before making this kind of purchase:
  • 57% of consumers are now more likely to purchase energy-efficient products despite the ongoing credit crunch

  • Only 9% of respondents said that they were now less likely to buy energy-efficient products, while 34% said they were neither more nor less likely.

  • 78% of respondents said that they tended to only buy new products when their existing ones had broken

  • Price is crucial in the current climate, with 80% of respondents agreeing that price was a more important factor now than in previous years

  • 64% agreed that paying for quality was important as the products needed to last for years

  • 26% of those asked were willing to save money by purchasing lesser-known brands, while 35% were not prepared to switch to lower-cost brands

  • 48% are also more open to purchasing technology and telecommunications products in a supermarket


Families are more likely to stay at home during the recession. Buckingham Research found:
  • Of the respondents who lived with a partner and children, 69% said they would be more likely to stay in over the next 12 months while 30% were just as likely to eat out as they had done previously. Only 1% said they were now less likely to eat home-cooked food instead of going out

  • 75% of families intend to spend less of their household expenditure on going out to the pub or restaurants, compared to 58% of both couples and single people

  • 73% of families said they would spend less on going out to the cinema or theatre, compared to 56% of couples and 57% of singles

  • 69% of families intend to cut back on sporting events, compared to 56% of couples and 51% of singles

  • 63% of families will cut back on their holidays and travel, compared to 45% of couples and 46% of singles

  • 56% of families intend to spend less on in-home entertainment, compared to 47% of couples and 43% of singles


Branded supermarket goods are now a luxury. The researchers asked shoppers how they viewed branded products compared to supermarkets' own label products:
  • 56% of shoppers agreed that they were a luxury when trying to keep grocery costs down and only 13% disagreed, while 31% neither agreed nor disagreed

  • A third of those asked (34%) agreed that branded products taste better than supermarket own-label goods, with 20% in disagreement. However when asked about value for money, 49% agreed that branded goods offer less value for money than own-label items, with 19% in disagreement.

  • 37% stated that they would be buying fewer branded ice cream products over the next 12 months, 36% said they would spend less on branded confectionery, alcoholic drinks, cakes and biscuits

  • Organic and fair-trade goods are also likely to suffer, with 58% and 41% of consumers respectively saying they were less likely to purchase these items over the next 12 months

  • Pet food seems likely to suffer least as only 10% said they would buy less branded goods in the year ahead


"Brands are likely to feel the pinch in this recession as shoppers focus increasingly on price and value for money," says Tim Sheard, research director at Buckingham Research. "But the fact that a third of shoppers believe that branded products taste better shows that there is still promise. The key for brands will be identifying what makes customers tick and ensuring that the messages they send out resonate with shoppers."

Consumers are aware of HDTV but few are ready to buy. 99% of consumers are aware of HDTV, Buckingham research found, but most will not be buying any time soon:
  • 53% do not have it and do not intend to take out a subscription

  • 13% do have it and will keep their existing subscription

  • 6% do not currently have it but intend to take out a subscription

  • 1% will be cancelling their existing subscription

  • 27% are unsure
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