When choosing where to do their grocery shopping, consumers in the UK now rate price as the second most important factor behind familiarity of store layout, according to a new 'Consumer Watch' survey from food and grocery think-tank IGD.
According to the survey, some 17% of consumers choose their grocery stores because they like the prices, but a more significant 43% prefer to make their choice based on familiarity with the layout of a store.
The gap between these two key factors is widening year by year: last year 21% chose price and 35% chose layout, suggesting that convenience and ease of shopping are becoming increasingly more important than price. This supports the frequently voiced irritation of customers in supermarkets when they find that the shelves have once again been re-merchandised, and suggests to The Wise Marketer that chain-wide standardised store layouts could achieve much.
The good news is that most consumers (81%) believe that grocery shopping has improved for them in the past year, showing that consumers recognise and appreciate that the grocery industry is going a long way toward meeting their needs.
When asked which elements of grocery shopping had improved most, the answers showed that, while ease of shopping may be most important, price is still a major factor:
- The price of food has not increased (25%);
- There are more discount stores in the area (20%);
- There are more price promotions in store (18%);
- There are more supermarkets in the area (18%);
- There are more farmers' markets or farm shops in the area (14%).
The combination of low prices and an easy, pleasant shopping experience is the approach to building loyalty taken by the UK supermarket, Asda, with significant success. Asda recently overtook Sainsbury's, moving into second place (behind Tesco) in the sector.
An interesting twist was noted when examining consumer attitudes to brand selection. When making food choices in-store,
- 17% want to know about ingredients first (up from 15% in 2003);
- 16% want a brand they know (up from 15% in 2003);
- 11% base their decisions on price (down from 12% in 2003).
Perhaps more surprisingly, when eating out, people are more interested in what's in the food than whether or not they will like the taste:
- 17% say that knowing the ingredients of a meal is most important to them (up from 14% in 2003);
- 16% say that the taste of the food is most important to them (down from 24% in 2003);
- 13% say that the price of the foot is most important to them (up from 12% in 2003).