A new study by consultants paints a picture of the impact the Great Recession has had on how people shop, and it provides a few cues as to how in-store digital should adjust to those changing patterns.
Today’s consumers are, in a word, resourceful. Their shopping is, in a word, precise.
They are using tactical tools and capabilities they have to perform better in the marketplace: coupons, loyalty cards, meal planning, shopping lists, delayed gratification, lowered standards (although not as often as one might think), brand switching, channel switching, store switching, cooking more, eating out less, buying fewer prepared meals, clarifying want versus need, reassessing convenience, larger packages, smaller packages, and more. They feel their personal economic challenges have been challenges well met – their confidence has risen as a result. In short, cutting back has made them feel smart, not deprived, and they have no intention of returning to old habits even when the economy returns.
In our view, the new game of shopping is not about saving. It’s more aggressive than that, more calculating, more informed, more consequential: for the average American consumer, successful shopping is about profiting from the market competition for share of their wallet.
Researchers found more than 90 per cent of the people surveyed had changed their grocery shopping behavior in the past two years, almost as many said they were being more resourceful, and 84% were being more precise in their decisions.
Generally, the research shows shoppers are more cautious and will likely be that way for some time. That suggests some of the impulse and spontaneity of buying – that can be triggered by digital messaging – might be diminished if people are being more precise and deliberate about getting what’s on their lists. The research actually confirms shoppers are less spontaneous and impulsive now.
The survey also shows people are quite pleased with themselves and find it fun to see how much they save by using things like coupons. That seems like a pretty strong cue on content tone in certain situations.
Pat Conroy, vice chairman and Deloitte’s consumer products practice leader, told MediaPost that “… personal gratification and a desire to feel smart about what consumers are putting in their shopping carts are trumping brand satisfaction… price-consciousness, value-orientation and bargain-hunting will remain prevalent for years… ”
So what does that mean in the context of content programming for digital displays? Certainly, messaging that is all about self-gratification, trendiness or plain old brand loyalty is likely off-target these days. Better to focus on messaging that reinforces value and savings, and for products that are not going to win price wars, the features and benefits versus the cheaper stuff.
Smart content guys talk about truly understanding the audience, and for grocery in the US and to some degree in Canada (we haven’t been whacked as hard up here with the recession stick), this is highly insightful stuff for companies doing digital in these environments.
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