Consumers forsake brands for loyalty card deals

CHICAGO — One-in-five consumers between the ages of 35 years and 54 years are choosing products due to a loyalty card discount, SymphonyIRI Group reported Wednesday as part of its Q4 2012 MarketPulse survey. And almost one-third are forsaking their preferred brands due to a sale price. The survey found that shopper sentiment dropped to its lowest point since Q3 2011. While consumers across all age groups feel the strain of ongoing economic strife, those ages 35 to 54 convey particularly gloomy attitudes, with 43% stating that their financial situation deteriorated in 2012. 

“Through quarterly analysis of two full years of MarketPulse data, we have consistently seen a solid representation of shoppers with a gray outlook on their financial health,” stated Susan Viamari, editor of Times & Trends, SymphonyIRI. “This sentiment remains very prevalent, especially for those aged 35 to 54, who are really influencing trends because they are in their prime earning and family-raising years. On top of today’s economic concerns, this age group also is thinking about college expenses and retirement. All of these pressures are converging to heighten their concern about their futures and leading the way on many conservative shopping strategies and money-saving behaviors, so marketers need to pay close attention to them.”

Launched in Q2 2012, SymphonyIRI’s Shopper Sentiment Index provides deep insight into how the economy is impacting consumers and changing how they approach grocery shopping. The Shopper Sentiment Index provides perspective in terms of price sensitivity, brand loyalty and changes in spending required to maintain desired lifestyles. With a benchmark score of 100 based on Q1 2011 information, a Shopper Sentiment Index score of more than 100 reflects consumers who are less price-driven, more loyal to favorite brands and better equipped to maintain their desired lifestyle without changes.

The index illustrates that shopper sentiment took a noteworthy uptick in early 2012, with a sizable segment of the population beginning to anticipate sunnier skies ahead. But when brighter days failed to materialize, consumers’ concerns for their future financial health began to waver, and sentiment slid once again. Latest findings from the Shopper Sentiment Index reveal that overall sentiment dropped to 94 in Q4 2012 versus 99 in Q3. This is the lowest point since Q3 2011, and the decline was driven largely by the 35 to 54 age segment.

With 27% of 35 to 54 year olds, and 22% of consumers on the whole having difficulty affording regular groceries, it is no surprise that consumers across the board are maintaining their cautious approach to shopping. According to the survey:

  • 29% of consumers between the ages of 35 and 54 buy brands other than preferred because they are on sale;

  • 26% select product