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Kroger_COVID_shopper_at_register.jpg The Kroger Co.
Sixty-one percent of shoppers reported switching purchase loyalty to less-expensive grocery brands since the COVID-19 outbreak, Inmar Intelligence said.

Grocery shoppers shift to less-expensive brands amid pandemic

Consumers seek savings via more promotions, coupons, Inmar poll finds

When it comes to brand choice, most U.S. grocery shoppers are opting for value during the coronavirus crisis, a new survey from Inmar Intelligence shows.

Of 1,000 consumers surveyed in November, 61% reported switching purchase loyalty to less-expensive brands since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Inmar said yesterday.

Shoppers polled were clear that they won’t hesitate to try new products to save money, Inmar found. Over 70% of respondents said they have actively searched for new types of grocery products or brands during the pandemic, and 83% aim to buy these new products again. Grocery customers said cost (cited by 67%) and sales/coupons (51%) were the chief reasons they purchased the new items and brands.

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Other key findings: 39% of respondents said they shop for groceries more frequently and 43% have used a grocery store’s mobile app to place orders since the coronavirus outbreak began.

“COVID-19 continues to impact today’s shoppers, who are searching for new ways to save money, especially in terms of groceries,” according to David Mounts, chairman and CEO of Inmar, a provider of data-driven technology services for retailers and manufacturers, among others. “The survey findings suggest that shoppers expect retailers to provide more promotions and have expressed their willingness to try new brands because of it. So it is crucial for retailers and CPG brands to provide cost-savings opportunities, whether this be coupons or other promotional activities to maintain store traffic and protect customer loyalty.” 

Indeed, 80% of shoppers surveyed indicated they’re actively seeking grocery deals — including via coupons and promotions — while 92% think grocery brands should be doing more to bring savings to consumers. And their shopping behavior bears that out, as 59% of respondents shop more frequently at stores that provide coupons or promotions, which Inmar noted are more likely to earn repeat business. 

“With additional stimulus still a question mark, and likely a ‘2021 thing,’ the economic pressure consumers are already feeling is growing, alongside increased consumer demand for brands and retailers to help them stretch their grocery budgets,” Holly Pavlika, senior vice president of corporate marketing at Inmar, said in a blog post yesterday. “Promotions have not been a priority for many trading partners during these past months, but data from our latest shopper survey shows that needs to change.”

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In the current environment, it behooves retailers and brands to engage with customers to provide “personalized and consistent” promotions, and to some extent they’re falling short, Inmar said. Forty percent of shoppers polled report fewer coupons being available, even though 36% said sales and specials influence which stores they shop.

Meanwhile, 44% of consumers report that the average number of coupons they redeem weekly at a grocery store has changed since the pandemic started, and 41% have used a grocery store’s mobile app to clip coupons. 

Pavlika pointed out that both retailers and manufacturers are experiencing brand loyalty issues, as pandemic-driven product trial during the earlier stockpiling phase “complicated” relationships between shoppers and CPGs. 

“In order to retain these new loyalists or win them back to their earlier favorites, marketers are going to have to show shoppers some love when it comes to price,” she said. “Everyday price competition isn't an option for every retailer, but periodic promotions will go a long way in cementing and repairing relationships.”

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