Conservatism is pervasive mindset among U.S. CPG shoppers, as nearly one in four are having difficulty affording groceries, finds SymphonyIRI; eating at home, extending product life, clipping coupons, online price research among behaviors on the rise

CHICAGO , November 15, 2011 () – The ongoing economic downturn has spawned a new breed of consumer, downturn shoppers, who are continuing and extending their frugal practices, significantly impacting when, where and how they purchase consumer packaged goods. A new SymphonyIRI Times & Trends Special Report, “The Downturn Shopper: Buckled in for a Wild and Crazy Ride,” was released this week, highlighting these behaviors and offering recommendations to CPG and retailer decision makers.

This Times & Trends Special Report is based on results from SymphonyIRI’s third quarter MarketPulse™ survey, an ongoing survey series commissioned to monitor shoppers’ perceptions around the evolving economy, and the impact that the economy is having on personal financial conditions, lifestyle and shopping behaviors, and money-saving strategies. This quarter’s MarketPulse revealed that a majority of shoppers remain pessimistic about their personal finances and that, as this pessimism continues, they are increasingly expanding money-saving practices, such as eating at home, extending the life of personal care products, utilizing a cleaning product for multiple tasks, clipping and downloading coupons, and using the Internet to find the best deals.

“In this prolonged down economy, nearly one in four consumers find it difficult to afford their weekly groceries,” said Susan Viamari, editor of Times & Trends, SymphonyIRI. “As a result, many consumers are adjusting their food and beverage-related behaviors in an effort to save money. Through the MarketPulse survey, many consumers are telling a story of optimism that has faded and been replaced with expectations that the economy will remain stagnant or weaken further. In reaction to this lack of confidence, a theme of ‘conservatism’ is prevalent across markets, channels, categories and consumer segments.”

Home Is Where the Savings Is

Consistent with MarketPulse findings from the second quarter of this year, more than half of consumers surveyed dialed back the frequency of eating out in an effort to conserve. A similar number is creating and serving more “simple” and less expensive meals at home. Other household rituals they are observing include:

42 percent of consumers are bringing snacks/food from home to school or work to save money
36 percent of consumers are going to the doctor less and self-treating more to save money
35 percent are turning more frequently to at-home beauty treatments in lieu of spa treatments

“For CPG marketers, there is a bright side to this downturn economy,” continued Viamari. “Many of the rituals consumers are embracing as they seek to manage their budgets involve packaged goods solutions. But, shoppers are selecting and using these solutions in a very cost-conscious manner. Marketers must understand and deliver against the conservative mindset behind this approach to daily living in order to fully capitalize on opportunities spawned from consumers’ ongoing budgetary concerns.”

Shoppers are also approaching grocery shopping in a very measured manner, as they feel the need to budget and spend prudently. To that end, many shoppers are making CPG decisions at home, even before they head into stores.

More than two-thirds of shoppers enter the stores with ready-made lists
A substantial and growing number of shoppers are combing circulars and coupons to find the best deals
When in stores, two-thirds have cut back on “non-essential” grocery purchases

Consumers Click for Savings

The Internet is rapidly becoming an integral component of the downturn shopper’s money saving strategies. MarketPulse points to a steady rise in shoppers using the Internet to research products, download recipes and gather coupons.

26 percent of consumers research products on Web sites, an increase of two points from the previous quarter
39 percent of shoppers download recipes off Web sites and other online sources, versus 36 percent in the second quarter
37 percent of consumers download coupons from manufacturer Web sites, as compared to 35 percent in the previous quarter

“Retailers and manufacturers seeking to succeed and remain profitable in today’s challenging retail environment must consider implementing aggressive product and shopper marketing initiatives,” said John McIndoe, senior vice president of marketing, SymphonyIRI. “Most importantly, these initiatives must demonstrate value, not necessarily just based on price and convenience, but also on delivering relevance. To do so, CPG marketers must begin with a holistic shopper analysis, founded on an integrated analysis of frequent purchase data plus demographics, life stages, needs, usage and more.”

SymphonyIRI Times & Trends Webinar

SymphonyIRI is offering a free webinar, entitled “The Downturn Shopper: Buckled in for a Wild and Crazy Ride,” at 11:30 a.m. CT on Nov. 17, 2011. To register for the webinar, hosted by Susan Viamari, editor of Times & Trends, please visit: http://www.symphonyiri.com/NewsEvents/EventsWebinars/TheDownturnShopper/tabid/281/Default.aspx.

About the Report

This month’s Times & Trends Special Report, “The Downturn Shopper: Buckled in for a Wild and Crazy Ride,” is a free report available from SymphonyIRI, the world’s leading innovation partner that enables CPG, retail and healthcare companies to create and maximize new opportunities. SymphonyIRI based this month’s report its quarterly MarketPulse Survey, a nationally representative survey of 2,000 shoppers conducted in the third quarter of 2011. To download the report, visit: http://www.symphonyiri.com/Insights/ArticleDetail/tabid/117/ItemID/1372/View/Details/Default.aspx.

About SymphonyIRI Group, Inc.

SymphonyIRI Group, Inc., formerly named Information Resources, Inc. (“IRI”), is the global leader in innovative solutions and services for driving revenue and profit growth in CPG, retail and healthcare companies. SymphonyIRI offers two families of solutions: Core IRI solutions for market measurement and Symphony Advantage solutions for enabling new growth opportunities in marketing, sales, shopper marketing and category management. SymphonyIRI solutions uniquely combine content, analytics and technology to deliver maximum impact. SymphonyIRI helps companies create, plan and execute forward-looking, shopper-centric strategies across every level of the organization. For more information, visit http://www.SymphonyIRI.com.

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