‘Consumers want more than just lowest price’

Shoppers see value based on a varied mix of quantity, quality and price, according to research that will make interesting reading to large retailers battling for market share using price-based promotions.

Sainsburys

While a quarter look for the lowest absolute price, 28% seek value in getting the largest quantity for the money they plan to spend, according to new research from retail analysts Shoppercentric.

Meanwhile a significant proportion, 21%, see value as getting the best quality within their budget.

Supermarkets have focused on price campaigns during the recession in an effort to maintain and grow market shares – with consumers being offered a Big Price Drop at Tesco, price difference coupons as part of a Brand Match campaign at Sainsbury’s, and the Price Guarantee at Asda.

The research, which interviewed over 1,000 consumers weighted to reflect the population aged 18-64, also revealed that shoppers are increasingly choosing vouchers and coupon based promotions over multi-buy incentives.

Over half – 53% – use redemption offers now, an increase of six percent.

Loyalty cards, link offers such as meal deals and added value promotions like free gifts have also grown in popularity since the last survey in 2009, according to the report.

However, buy-one-get-one-free (BOGOF) deals remain the most popular type of promotion, although its lead has sunk slightly from 79% to 76%, while money-off single item offers takes second place with 66% of the vote, down from 69% in 2009.

Meanwhile the report names and shames the Co-Op for poor value perception across all categories covered by the research. The mutual-based retailer has the worst perception of value of all the retailers according to the report.

It also reveals that growing retailer Morrisons scores better than Sainsbury’s across the board as it is perceived as offering good quality, fresh produce – like Sainsbury’s – but at consistently low prices, unlike its northern headquartered rival.

Tesco retains the top-spot in being seen by shoppers as offering the best value overall – with 42% choosing the supermarket.

Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer rated well for offering good promotions due to the consistency of its ‘Dine in for £10’, as well as retaining highest ratings for best product quality, according to Shoppercentric.

Shoppercentric managing director Danielle Pinnington said the research should act as a “wake-up call” for Sainsbury’s in particular.

Pinnington said the retailer’s ‘Brand Match’ offer – which lets customers print coupons at the till for the difference if they paid more for a leading brand than it sells for at a rival retailer – “does not appear to have translated into strong value for money perceptions among shoppers.”

Despite the supermarket claims of success for the campaign last week when it posted a 7% increase in full year profits, Pinnington says consumers perceive Brand Match money back coupons as a “backhanded compliment.”

She adds that, more generally, supermarkets should take note of the nuances of consumers’ differing value perceptions: “Retailers that take a stand on a specific issue, such as quality or price, better differentiate themselves in shoppers’ minds – this is vital since shoppers have access to so many different retailers nowadays.”

A spokesman for the Co-Op says they are “disappointed” with the Shoppercentric results, and they are working hard to address the value perception “issue” with “significant investment in reducing prices” and “product and service development.”

Sainsbury’s refutes the report’s analysis of its flagship Brand Match promotion: “Our research shows that the number of customers who agree that Sainsbury’s sells brands at the same price as other supermarkets has risen from 68 per cent to 80 per cent since the trial of Brand Match in August 2011,” says a spokeswoman.

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