PLMA consumer survey: Host of factors feeds consumer 'buy' decision

NEW YORK — A recent consumer survey debunked the two long-assumed scenarios surrounding the moment a shopper actually makes a shopping decision — before they've entered the store as part of a planned purchase or at the shelf on an impulse.

For years, the retailing industry has debated between those who argue a shopper’s mind is mostly made up before they even enter the store and those who assert the real decision what to buy comes down to a final few seconds at the shelf. In fact it is neither, according to a recent survey of U.S. consumers.

A study released Monday by the Private Label Manufacturers Association and Buxton consumer research determined that the decision-making process is influenced by a variety of factors from the kitchen table where the shopping list is created to the shelf where the product is taken. The nationwide poll of 1,170 shoppers found that shoppers tend to be engaged fully in a process for purchase decisions that starts with that list of items at home, visiting stores and walking the aisles, then considering a variety options and alternatives to their planned purchases prior to deciding what to buy at the shelves. 

Among the highlights from the survey findings:

Despite changes in consumer demographics, lifestyles and store formats, two-thirds of those surveyed say they rely on a list when doing the main household shopping for their family;

Brands are not often specified;

  • Six-out-of-10 shoppers say they list products by brand name only occasionally, rarely or never. However, half of these shoppers admit they frequently have a brand in mind, even when they don’t list it;

  • Lists — and brands — are less of a factor for drug chain shoppers. Nearly two-thirds say they don’t make a list for drug store purchases, and of those that do, only 2-out-of-10 will specify a brand;

  • Once inside a store, shoppers become browsers and walk through the store looking for items on their list but also pay attention to special displays, promotions, product sampling and demonstrations; and

  • Half of all shoppers say they would buy a store brand if the national brand were not available. Only 23% say they would buy another national brand instead. A mere 14% would go to another store.

To follow up on the Buxton research and its implications for the private-label industry, PLMA will host a special seminar program on Nov. 13, in conjunction with the association’s 2011 Private Label Trade Show in Chicago.

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