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nielsen-grocery-decisions-store-service-factors-august2012.pngOne-quarter of grocery shoppers worldwide report that retailer loyalty reward programs have had a major impact on their purchases in the prior 12 months, while an additional 44% report a small impact, per results [download page] of an August 2012 report from Nielsen. Other “store service” factors that have impacted consumer choices by at least a small amount include new retail stores opening in the area (67%) and self-service checkouts (64%). 3 in 5 respondents – hailing from 56 countries around the world – say that grocery shopping online has had an impact on their decisions, including 24% who say it has had a major impact.

Product Availability Impacts Choice

Details from Nielsen’s “Factors that impact how we grocery shop worldwide” indicate that both availability and lack of availability impact grocery shopping choices. Some 69% report that discontinuation of a favorite product has had some impact on their selection, including 29% who described it as having a major impact. Similarly, roughly two-thirds say that the availability of new retailer-store brand (private label) products in-store has impacted their decision, with 21% saying this has had a major impact.

Store brands have certainly attracted a significant consumer audience in the US. According to a July 2012 study by Accenture, 64% of US grocery shoppers claim that half or more of the groceries they buy are store brand products, while 7.8% claim that all the products in their basket are store brand, and only 14% say that store brands account for less than 10% of their grocery purchases. And while about 2 in 5 respondents said they have increased their purchase of store brands in recent years as a result of the tough economic times, 76.8% would not return to branded products if their disposable income returned to pre-recession levels.

Health, Wellness Are Significant Factors

Meanwhile, further details from the Nielsen report suggest that health and wellness concerns are second only to economic realities as a “driving force” for consumers in making purchase decisions. 38% of global consumers cited health factors (e.g., heart, cholesterol, obesity) as having a major impact upon their purchase decisions. 37% report health factors as having a small impact, and just 24% cite no impact at all.

The next most critical health and wellness factors, ordered by proportion of respondents indicating them to have a significant impact, are: food labeling information on packaging (e.g., caloric content, ingredients), a major impact for 31%; food allergy factors (26%); availability of products with enhanced nutritional benefits (25%); and availability of organic product options (24%).

Price The Most Critical Factor, Worldwide

Ranking 16 factors by major impact on grocery purchase choices, the study shows pricing to top the list in every region worldwide (Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, Middle East/Africa, North America). Globally, the top 5 factors in descending order were: prices; health; transportation costs; package labeling; and delisting (removal of a preferred product).

The order is identical in North America, but for the fifth-place factor. Retailer loyalty programs are the fifth most-critical impact cited by consumers, and delisting the sixth.

The result of price concerns in the US is a higher reliance on private-label and store-brand products, per separate results from the Accenture study. Roughly two-thirds of those shoppers said they buy store brands because they are cheaper. And, a May 2012 Ipsos report revealed that 9 in 10 US consumers believe that store brands compare equally or favorably to national brands in terms of value for the money.

Other Findings:

  • Special pricing was cited as the top benefit of loyalty cards by 52% of respondents.
  • Increasing food costs affect 88% of respondents in Asia-Pacific, and similar proportions in Latin America (86%), North America (83%), Middle East/Africa (82%) and Europe (81%), where rising food prices reportedly have a major impact on grocery decisions for more than half of the population.

About The Data: The Nielsen survey was conducted February 10 through 27, 2012 and polled more than 28,000 consumers in 56 countries. The survey is based on the behavior of respondents with online access only. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60% internet penetration or 10M online population for survey inclusion.

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