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Even as the economy improves, 94 percent of Americans indicate they will remain cautious and keep their spending for food, beverage and household goods at its current level, according to Deloitte's 2013 American Pantry Study.
Nearly nine in 10 (88 percent) survey respondents report they have found several private label brands that they feel are just as good as national brands, and few consumers plan to switch back to national brands. Only 27 percent plan to do so as the economy rebounds, an eight percentage point decline from the previous year.
More than nine in 10 (92 percent) consumers surveyed indicate they have become more resourceful, and 86 percent say they are getting more precise in what they buy -- attitudes that have remained consistent in the three years Deloitte has conducted the study, and across income levels.
"One of the most notable year-over-year trends in the study is how embedded frugality has become due to the recession," said Pat Conroy, vice chairman, Deloitte LLP and consumer products sector leader. "Prudent consumers and improving perceptions about store brands are squeezing national brands' position. The gap between the few 'must have' brands on shoppers' lists and others on the shelf may be widening, making it more important for brands to differentiate through innovation, quality and performance. Consumer product companies may also consolidate low and mid-level performers and shift investment to the category leaders."
As store brands become more entrenched in the pantry, brand loyalty continues to slide, however consumers appear to be selectively loyal to certain brands.
Brand loyalty dropped for the third consecutive year in the survey. When asked why certain brands are no longer a priority for their households, consumers cited "other brands are available on sale" as the No. 1 reason. However, brands to which consumers are most loyal significantly outpace their lower performing counterparts by 20 or more percentage points on attributes such as performance, experience and trust.
Consumers have also honed in on select brands they will consider. More than eight in 10 (84 percent) consumers say they have a specific set of brands in mind, and will purchase whichever one is on sale.
The 2013 American Pantry Study also reveals an unmet demand for online shopping options, particularly for in-store pickup and at-home delivery. While 14 percent of shoppers surveyed currently buy consumer products online and pick them up in the store, 43 percent indicate they would like to do so, with strongest demand appearing in food and beverage categories for in-store pickup.
The latest American Pantry Study also indicates that interest in mobile technology is growing at a higher rate among baby boomers than younger consumers. Nearly one-quarter (23 percent) of respondents age 45 to 70 indicate they are interested in using mobile coupons they can scan at the checkout, up from 12 percent in last year's survey, compared with a six percentage point increase among respondents age 21 to 29.