CANCUN, Mexico -- The average Mexican family spends the equivalent of $87 (U.S.) per week on groceries, compared with $80 for the average U.S. family, according to results of a consumer trends study in Mexico conducted on behalf of the Food Marketing Institute, Washington.
Mexican families who shop at self-service supermarkets average weekly grocery bills of $92, compared with $70 for those who shop at outdoor markets and $69.50 for consumers at corner stores, the survey indicated.
Survey results, based on 800 face-to-face interviews, were discussed by Claybrook Collier, FMI's director of research, during the Pan American Retail Executives Conference here.
It marks the first time FMI has conducted a study of consumer attitudes in Mexico.
According to the survey, pocketbook issues were the major concern of 41% of Mexican consumers, compared with 53% of U.S. consumers.
"Although Mexico has been successful in reducing inflation to single-digit numbers this year for the first time in 21 years," Collier noted, inflation was cited as the major concern by 16% of Mexican respondents, unemployment by 14% and the threat of recession by 11%.
However, only 7% of Mexican consumers cited price as the single most important attribute when buying food, compared with 49% who named freshness, 23% who named quality and 4% who named variety.
"The relatively low percentage of customers focused on price appears to be good news for supermarket operators here, particularly since economic issues dominated their list of concerns," Collier said.
Among other survey findings:
Self-service supermarkets are the choice of 79% of shoppers as their primary food store, compared with 10% who preferred corner stores and 6% who preferred covered outdoor markets.
Mexican consumers are loyal to their primary store, with 82% visiting the same store each time they shop and only 18% making a change in the prior year. In the United States, 24% of shoppers changed stores over the prior year.
Self-service supermarket shoppers in Mexico tend to be better educated, with higher incomes. They also tend to be in the upper social class and are less likely to have young children.
Convenience and price were the two top reasons cited by consumers in Mexico and Europe for changing stores. In the United States, price was No. 1, followed by convenience.
Mexican consumers prefer shopping at a self-service supermarket for detergents and cleaning supplies, packaged food products, health and beauty care items, deli items and cheeses.
However, they prefer buying fresh meat, chicken and fresh bread from specialty stores; produce, fresh seafood and cut flowers from covered and open-air markets, and nonalcoholic beverages from corner stores.
The three top reasons consumers here select a particular store were quality fresh meat, quality produce and cleanliness. In the United States, the top reasons are quality produce first, quality fresh meat second and cleanliness third.
However, faster checkouts were of greater importance to Mexican consumers, while variety rated higher with U.S. consumers.
Asked what areas they felt needed improvement, Mexican shoppers wanted better variety, a wider choice of products and faster service. In contrast, U.S. shoppers listed faster checkouts, better store layouts and a wider choice of products.
Asked about their nutritional concerns, only 12% of Mexicans expressed concern about fat in their foods -- "about the same level as in the United States back in 1985," Collier pointed out. In the United States, fat content is the major concern of more than half of all consumers, he said.