Viewpoints

Extreme Savers Are Honing Their Shopping Skills

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Americans are taking part in a new sports craze.

But knee bends, sit-ups and leg squats aren't part of their warm-up. In fact, athleticism isn't even a requirement. That's because their fixation is food.

But it's not just any food that they're after. These extreme savers are seeking foods that can be obtained for a substantial bargain.

So concerned with “getting their save on” are some that they refuse to be constrained by the Sunday newspaper boy's schedule.

No, serious shoppers are getting a jump on the upcoming week by planning their strategy on Saturday night.

What other explanation could there be for Walgreens selling out of its Sunday papers one day in advance? asked Dennis Belacastro, vice president of customer development and industry affairs for Kraft Foods at last week's Grocery Manufacturers Association's Merchandising, Sales and Marketing Conference.

What started as a means for making ends meet for most has turned into a strategic game for some, as week after week savers strive to beat their personal best.

One Shaw's Supermarket shopper featured on television recently got more than $230 worth of groceries for a single penny!

This mom wasn't making any friends at the checkstand with that endless stack of coupons, but there was no shame in her game.

As part of a particularly clever maneuver she confidently ordered a minuscule amount of fresh sea scallops — $1 worth — knowing that that was all her $1-off loyalty coupon would afford her.

But she's not the only one hosting “little bit of everything dinners.”

Other shoppers are making do with ingredients they've already got in their cupboards.

Kraft Foods' Laura Barry, vice president of consumer insight and shopper engagement, refers to the practice as “eating down the pantry.”

What these meals lack in taste they often make up for in creativity, according to one shopper who said, “We had a few crazy meals, but we really saved money.”

Kraft's research shows that close to half (49%) of shoppers are engaging in the practice more now than they did just three months ago. The supplier has responded with ideas for five dinners that can be made with a single bag of groceries.

Other marketers are also keeping a close watch on these skillful shoppers. Many have even developed clever names for members of the crowd.

Shoptimizer is the moniker Dial bestows on those who carefully devise their plan of attack before hitting the stores, according to Tracy VanBibber, senior vice president and chief customer solutions officer at the Dial Corp.

If you'd like to see one in action, just head over to your local Wal-Mart store. More than half of its shoppers (56%) do their homework.

Behaviors are also category specific. Thirty-three percent of carbonated beverage consumers are shoptimizers, while just one in 100 pet supply shoppers do their research before leaving home.

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Contributors

David Orgel

David Orgel is executive director, content & user engagement, of Supermarket News (SN) and its website, SupermarketNews.com. Orgel delivers his opinions on industry trends through a bi-weekly...

Jon Springer

Jon Springer has been writing about food, food retailers and food retailing for more than 10 years, and is in his second tour of duty with Supermarket News. His prior experience includes covering the...
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In their Viewpoints columns, SN editors give their perspectives on current industry issues.

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