NEW YORK: A majority of consumers are still trading down to own-label goods and buying items on sale, a global study has found.

Nielsen, the research firm, surveyed 27,000 adults in 55 markets, and found that 60% are purchasing greater numbers of private label products.

A further 57% of the panel are now acquiring more products on sale, 40% regularly redeem coupons, 35% buy value packs and 25% try and visit stores close to home or the office.

Elsewhere, 22% suggested stocking up had proved an effective tool, 18% switched to cheaper health and beauty ranges and 17% bought smaller pack sizes carrying a lower unit price.

The recession's wider impact was demonstrated by the fact just 10% of contributors agreed that "I have not taken any steps to save on household expenses".

Participants from North America typically implemented the most radical changes, including 70% obtaining lines marked down in price and 59% utilising vouchers.

"In the US in particular, manufacturer coupon redemption hit record highs in 2009 after years of no growth or declining growth," Nielsen said.

Discount and value retailers also now generate over 33% of grocery sales in Canada, while respondents there and in America are the most likely to shop at outlets near where they live or work.

Some 46% of those polled in Asia Pacific reclaimed coupons, although this strategy was not widespread in many emerging nations given the low penetration enjoyed by supermarkets and hypermarkets.

In the Middle East and Africa, for example, only 11% of customers adopted this approach, measured against 42% searching for promotions and 21% patronising discount chains.

Approximately 24% of people in North America and 23% in South America had switched to affordable cosmetics and similar items, decreasing to 15% in Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa.

Across the sample as a whole, 19% of members pay with credit cards more often than before, falling to 11% in Europe and 10% in North America.

By contrast, 31% of North Americans and 30% of Latin Americans had reined in this activity, a figure that stood at 20% in Europe, 17% in Asia Pacific and 23% in the Middle East and Africa.

A majority of shoppers have put the brakes on out-of-home dining, although a quarter of people in China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia and the Philippines actually eat in restaurants more frequently.

Five of the ten countries where the reduction in eating out had been most pronounced - Greece, Ireland, Spain, Turkey and Portugal - were also in the top ten when it came to increased demand for store brands.

All five of these nations appear to face substantial economic challenges in the future.

Data sourced from Nielsen; additional content by Warc staff