Price is no longer the main factor in dictating which supermarkets shoppers will use, according to detailed research by one of Europe’s leading shopping behaviour specialists.

New research by SBXL Ltd reveals that despite the economic downturn fewer shoppers are on the hunt for bargains and low prices. Convenience, habit and brand loyalty are now major factors, with only shoppers at discount stores influenced by price.

The figures reveal that shoppers at the Co-op, Morrison’s, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Marks and Spencer and Waitrose rate convenience far higher than prices in their supermarket choices. Only shoppers at Asda, Aldi and Lidl say they are more influenced by prices and promotions.

The research is part of SBXL’s Continuous Shopper Insight programme which surveys a cross section of shoppers on a monthly basis. Information from more than 2,800 shoppers is analysed to give an ongoing picture of shopping habits and shoppers’ attitudes.

SBXL’s senior insight manager Serena Tippler said the recession led people to assume that shoppers would be looking for bargains as they balanced their grocery budgets. But that was not necessarily the case.

“We survey a wide range of shoppers geographically and across the income scale. The message we are getting is that convenience is the major factor for most supermarkets. This is emphasised even more as we move up the scale from discount to premium stores,” she said.

She added, “Habit and loyalty to a particular supermarket is also a factor. In particular, shoppers at those supermarkets which offer loyalty schemes are likely to stick with them, demonstrating that loyalty strategies are successful in playing a part in building habitual behaviour.”

“The message to supermarkets from this research is that when they are drawing up their business strategies they should bear in mind that price will influence less of their customers than convenience and loyalty building.”

The same research also shows that Asda has leap-frogged Morrison’s and Sainsbury’s as UK shoppers’ favourite supermarket. Tesco continues to come out on top in the research, while Sainsbury’s and Morrison’s have been pushed into third and fourth places.

Asda’s jump in popularity is thought to be due in part to the re-branding of its Netto stores, underlining the importance of convenience in shopper choices.

SBXL, based in Staffordshire, is a leading retail research firm, combining state-of-the-art technology with a detailed knowledge of human psychology. As well as regular shopper tracking, the company provides retailers and brands with in-depth insights, using techniques such as in-store filming to capture behaviour, The company also provides detailed studies of facial expressions and non-verbal communication to identify sub-conscious decision-making processes, and eye-tracking to determine what shoppers see in-store.

The company – which recently featured on Gloria Hunniford’s BBC programme “Rip-Off Food” – works with leading retailers and brands across Europe, North America and the Far East.

Shopping Behaviour Xplained

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