Manufacturers that promote foods and beverages with easy-open lids or portable packages could be at a competitive advantage, as consumers crave such convenience products, according to a new SN survey.
Nearly half (47%) of respondents to SN's 2004 Survey of Manufacturer Promotional Practices agreed they want convenience in the foods and beverages they buy. More than one-quarter (26%) said they will pay more for such products.
"We're in the middle of a time famine," stated John Stanton, professor of food marketing at St. Joseph's University, Philadelphia.
Consequently, consumers are begging for help in terms of shopping, cooking, eating and cleaning up -- and will pay more for products that help them do so, Stanton told SN.
"Convenience is a key element in the value equation," concurred Don Stuart, partner, Cannondale Associates, Wilton, Conn., a sales and marketing consulting firm. "Price plus the benefits that a product delivers equals value."
Survey results are based on an online poll that SN commissioned InsightExpress, Stamford, Conn., an online market research firm, to conduct in August. More than 100 primary household shoppers were questioned. (SN will publish Part II of the study, which will highlight where manufacturers said they are putting their promotional dollars, in the Nov. 1 issue.)
The survey also found further evidence that low-carb dieting is declining. Despite the fact that 45% said they are buying more health-oriented groceries, a large percentage (62%) disagreed with the statement, "I am on a low-carb diet." Another 14% neither agreed nor disagreed with the statement, while 24% agreed.
Meanwhile, 65% said they will not pay more for low-carb foods.
Just 19% said they purchase between one and five low-carb foods and beverages each week.
While low-carb dieting most certainly is still here, it has evolved from fad to fashion to fixture among a smaller percentage of the population, said Stuart of Cannondale.
Along with the aforementioned areas, the survey asked consumers to comment on a number of other promotional tools, including couponing, sampling, Internet activities, and contests and sweepstakes.
Following are excerpts from the results:
More than half (56%) said they use a few coupons a month, vs. 14% who said they use one to two per week; 20%, three to seven; 4%, eight to 10; and 6%, 11 or more.
Coupons have an effect on the products consumers buy, as 57% agreed they often purchase a brand for which they have a coupon, and 56% said they usually look through coupons when planning their supermarket shopping.
Shoppers like that coupons save them money. Most (76%) agreed they are helping their family's budget by using coupons. More than half (54%) agreed with the statement, "Price is more important to me than brand names." Fifty-seven percent agreed "coupons often influence my decision to buy a new product."
Consumers seem to appreciate most types of coupons and aren't overly concerned about high face values. Just 17% agreed they "only use coupons if the face value is over 50 cents." In comparison, more than half (53%) disagreed with the same statement.
Still, nearly one-half said they don't like coupon restrictions, such as multiple purchase requirements. Forty-four percent agreed they will not use a coupon if it means they must purchase more than one product.
"Manufacturers need to keep it simple," Stanton stressed. "Those that want to give consumers a discount should just do so, and not play games" with multiple purchase requirements.
Manufacturer sampling received favorable results, with 40% saying they try most (about three-quarters) of the samples they receive. This is a decrease from last year's study, when more than half (54%) said they try most samples. Nearly one-quarter (22%) said they try every sample they receive.
Seventy-nine percent agreed they would consider switching brands if they liked a free sample, and nearly half (48%) reported buying a product after receiving a free sample. Sixty-five percent agreed they become aware of new or improved products through samples and coupons.
To get free samples, coupons and product information, consumers are partaking in various manufacturer online activities.
Nearly one-quarter (22%) said they go online to obtain product recipes. They are also responding to other promotional tools: 11% said they subscribe to a consumer packaged good manufacturer's e-newsletter; 13% joined an Internet club or Web site that offers free samples, coupons and other offers. Other reasons for going online include asking for advice on product use, and visiting manufacturer Web sites.
Respondents voiced strong support for loyalty cards when it comes to contests and sweepstakes.
More than half (52%) said they like it when they are automatically entered into a contest/sweepstakes via their frequent shopper card. This is an increase from SN's 2003 Survey of Manufacturer Promotional Practices, when 43% said the same.
In contrast, 17% said they don't like to be enrolled via loyalty cards, down from 33% who said the same in last year's study.
Stuart of Cannondale predicted continued growth in acceptance and availability of loyalty cards.
"Loyalty cards have become an accepted part of consumer shopping," he said. "If a consumer is patronizing a store, they become accustomed to being rewarded for their patronage."
Nineteen percent said they will buy certain brands if they are connected to a contest/sweepstakes, while 12% said they will shop at certain retailers that offer contests/sweepstakes.
Most respondents reported strong brand loyalty, with more than two-thirds (68%) saying they usually buy the same brands.
This is a decrease from last year, when 81% said the same.
When it comes to which types of brands they buy, 38% of respondents said they're buying more store brands now than one year ago. This is down from 54% in 2003.
Still, nearly one-third (31%) said they prefer well-known national brands and are willing to pay more for them.
That's also lower than last year, when 47% said the same.
Consumers want food that is easy to transport and consume
I'm on the lookout for foods and beverages that will make my life easier, such as those with easy-open lids and portable packages:
Who Agree: 47%
Neither Agree Nor Disagree: 30%.
About two-thirds of respondents said they will not pay higher prices for low-carb foods and beverages
I am willing to pay more for low-carb foods:
Who Agree: 15%
Neither Agree Nor Disagree: 20%
Trying Is Believing
The majority of respondents try most of the samples they receive
Which of the following statements apply to your household?
We often purchase a produdct after sampling: 18%
We try every sample: 22%
We try most samples: 40%
We try hardly any samples: 7%
We don't try samples: 1%
We frequently pass on samples not used to family and friends: 12%.
Couponing significantly influences purchasing decisions
I often purchase a brand name for which I have a product coupon:
Who Agree: 57%
Neither Agree Nor Disagree: 29%
The Winner Is ...
More than half of the respondents voiced support for automatic enrollment in contests via loyalty cards
Indicate which of the following statements describe your shopping habits related to contests/sweepstakes:
I do not like it when I am automatically entered: 17%
I will buy certain brands if they are connected: 19%
I will shop at certain retailers: 12%
I like it when I am automatically entered: 52%
Source for all charts: Online poll commissioned by SN and conducted by InsightExpress in August 2004. One hundred primary shoppers surveyed.