Consumers trade down to cheaper brands

10 June 2009

NEW YORK: Over 40% of consumers around the world switched to cheaper grocery brands in April this year, while a majority also decreased their expenditure levels on new clothes and out-of-home entertainment, a study by Nielsen has found.

Based on a global poll of 10,000 adults, Nielsen reported that over 50% of respondents argued that their personal financial situation is either "the same" or "better" than in October last year.

Despite this, 41% of participants also said they had traded down to lower-cost grocery brands in the fourth month of 2009, while more than a third plan to delay replacing major household items or purchasing new technological products.

However, only 17% of the company's panel had either reduced the amount of alcohol they bought, or opted to purchase cheaper brands in this category.

In terms of future behaviour, just 21% of contributors said they would look to buy more discounted grocery products, with a similar number saying the same when it came to holding off acquiring new clothes.

One in ten respondents will continue to put off buying major household items, with 14% agreeing with this statement for upgrading to new technology.

Based on an analysis of previous surveys, Nielsen measured the likelihood of predicted behaviour matching actual behaviour, and argued that the "confidence level" related to consumers switching to cheaper grocery brands was 51%.

By contrast, when it came to buying household goods and new clothes, the company stated that slightly improved spending levels "may emerge."

China and India are the best-placed countries to lead the economy recovery, due both to the impact of government stimulus packages and continuing improvements in the level of domestic demand in these nations.

The US market is also showing "increasing evidence of bottoming," which will have a knock-on effect on Brazil, which has seen improving levels of domestic demand, but is also "tied" in part to the American market.

Russia, by contrast, has posted "mixed" economic data, while the UK, Germany, France and Spain are in "deep recession", and their economies "aren't as flexible" as a number of better-placed markets.

Data sourced from Nielsen Online; additional content by WARC staff