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Study For PLMA Shows Shopping Habits Haven’t 'Changed Dramatically'

April 29, 2013

A new study commissioned by the Private Label Manufacturers Association and conducted by GfK Custom Research North America shows the shopping habits of women don’t appear to have “changed dramatically” in a half-century.

The survey of 1,000 women – who said they were the primary grocery shoppers of their household – showed that nearly 85 percent said they most often prepared the meals at their household, with 64 percent saying they very often made meals using fresh ingredients.

The survey indicated that women remained in charge of many of the shopping and household duties. In general, the survey showed, women were diligent, patient and frugal shoppers who do extensive meal preparation and got less help from other members of the household in carrying out the shopping, cooking, and other household tasks.

“What caught my eye was how little, in effect, the marketplace has changed since the days when Leave It To Beaver was on TV in the 1950s and early 1960s,” PLMA President Brian Sharoff told PLBuyer exclusively Monday. “There seemed to be some confusion as to who the current shoppers are. There’s several articles about men becoming shoppers, about working women becoming shoppers, about soccer moms becoming shoppers. And retailers are attempting to reflect that in their assortment.

“It doesn’t look like it has changed dramatically in 50 years, and I think that is much different than what a lot of market research leads one to believe.”

More than 90 percent said they shopped for regular grocery needs at supermarkets, with 80 percent shopping at large discount stores such as Walmart or Target and 78 percent shopping at warehouse or club stores.

Combine those shopping habits with the overwhelming number who are primary cooks and making meals at home – 52 percent said their households eat at home together five times or more a week – and Sharoff said the lessons for retailers were clear.

“It means the retailer needs to look at the kinds of products it has on the shelf and as a result, reflect what people are answering in the survey,” he said. “People do prepare meals, and the more choices they have to prepare their meals, the better they are as a shopper. Retailers want to keep in mind that convenience is very important to consumers, but convenience preparing meals, not convenience avoiding meals.”

Sharoff added that the research showed a return to traditional shopping and eating habits that might not have been reflected elsewhere.

“I recently saw some market research that said consumers are moving away from meals and moving toward multiple snacks,” he said. “So again, market research pulling the retailer toward the idea that snacks are what consumers really want when in fact it is the same, much stronger group of people shopping as have done it before, and one needs to stick with what supermarkets do best.

“This study is telling us to keep in mind that over 60 percent of women are preparing meals and looking to use the supermarket to help them provide meals.”

On the private label front, nearly half the women said they frequently bought private label items on grocery trips, while an additional 42 percent said they occasionally bought private label items.

The women surveyed also said that women were more likely to buy private label then men, with 64 percent of respondents agreeing to that statement. They generally believed that women were superior when it came to managing the household shopping, particularly when it came to buying healthy items and looking for value at the store.

By contrast, they said men generally were more interested in expediency and were less careful, less curious, and more creatures of habit than women when it came to shopping.

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