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Consumers are increasingly hunting for grocery bargains on the Web, Deloitte’s 2010 Consumer Food Safety Survey has found. According to the March online poll of a nationally representative sample of 1,102 consumers, one-third (33 percent) of respondents subscribed to receive e-mails/recipes/coupons directly from food manufacturers/companies, a six-percentage point rise from the company’s 2008 Consumer Food Safety Survey.
“Today’s consumers are using the Internet to not just find nutritional and safety information about the foods they eat, but [also] to find the best value for their dollar,” noted Pat Conroy, vice chairman and consumer products practice leader in the United States for New York-based Deloitte. “If this recession has taught us anything, it’s that we don’t necessarily have to sacrifice quality for value — and consumers have figured that out by uncovering the wealth of product promotions and other marketing messages available on the Internet.”
Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of those polled said they’ve visited a food company’s Web site to get product information and 23 percent also bought a food item because of something they read online. Similar to the 2008 results, 36 percent of consumers said they’ve visited a food company’s site for recipes.
Mobile devices are starting to play a key role in shopper decision-making, especially in the matter of price. Seven percent of respondents said they’ve used their mobile/smart phone while shopping to compare prices (53 percent), get/redeem coupons/discounts (44 percent) and obtain nutritional information (28 percent), among other reasons.
In the area of bargain hunting, men are more aggressive and, according to survey respondents, use their mobile devices more than women do for such purposes as price comparisons (59 percent vs. 49 percent) and receiving or redeeming coupons or discounts (53 percent vs. 38 percent). Women, however, use their mobile devices much more often to get further nutritional information (36 percent vs. 18 percent).
Store brands are still preferred over national brands, with 52 percent of those surveyed frequently or always buying store brands when shopping for packaged or bottled foods.
Among respondents who buy store brands, three-quarters (75 percent) of respondents said they did because such items cost less than national brands. Over half (55 percent) said they thought the quality is comparable to national brand food products, an increase of 14 percentage points since 2008, while 6 percent said the quality is superior than name brands in terms of taste, ingredients and organic offerings. When divided by age, 72 percent of consumers between 61 and 74 years old, 57 percent of those 45 to 60 years old, and 49 percent among both 30- to 44-year-olds and 8- to 29-year-olds said they chose store brands because of their comparability to national brands.
“In today’s economy, consumers believe that they can get quality products without paying higher prices, whether that’s from store brands or national brands,” observed Conroy. “Consumers realize their shopping choices have expanded, giving them the ability to be more selective about their purchases based on a variety of criteria, including, but not limited to, quality, quantity, taste and ,of course, value. The question companies are asking now is, ‘Will this more critical eye towards purchasing be the new norm or just a passing result of the economic downturn?’”
A copy of the 2010 survey is available at www.deloitte.com/us/foodsafety.