UK shoppers cut back

14 October 2009

LONDON: A majority of consumers in the UK are now buying more products on promotion, and are also trading down to low-cost brands in an effort to rein in their expenditure, new research by Shoppercentric has found.

According to the company, 22% of shoppers in Britain have been forced to change their purchase priorities due to "budgetary constraints", with salary cuts and redundancies both playing a central role in this process.

More than nine in ten are also choosing to acquire more promotional goods than was the case 12 months ago, while 38% are visiting retailers they didn't consider before the financial crisis began.

Furthermore, 56% are turning to cheaper products, either switching from branded items to own label, or from premium private label to more basic equivalents.

When making purchase decisions with retailers they have no prior experience of, 64% of participants said they looked to word-of-mouth to "help them fill the gap in their trust equation," Shoppercentric found.

A further 46% aimed to ascertain this information from a company website, a figure that fell to 37% for reading online reviews, 36% for TV advertising, and 31% for press reports.

Word-of-mouth was also preferred by 70% of consumers when appraising an electronics retailer, while 69% logged on to the web portal of the specific chain in question.

Some 63% turned to customer feedback posted on the internet, with 38% relying on TV spots, and 34% on press reports.

In the grocery sector, WOM was favoured by 63% of the panel, compared with 51% according this status to official websites, 38% to TV ads, 35% to online comments, and 34% to material published in the press.

With regard to the types of information shoppers were interested in, almost all wanted to know about issues relating to price, quality and convenience.

This applied not only to retailers, but also to brands in the washing powder and coffee categories, and was seen as more important than matters such as corporate social responsibility or a brand's heritage.

Danielle Pinnington, managing director of Shoppercentric, said "at a very basic level, shopper trust is created when a retailer or brand delivers against a shopper's needs or expectations – you have to be delivering at the coal face – at the point of purchase."

"Failure to deliver against these – even on just one occasion – can undermine a shopper's trust to the detriment of the retailer or brand."

Data sourced from Shoppercentric; additional content by Warc staff