Some Grocery-Shopping Impulses Have a Long Shelf Life

Exhausted by the time you finish shopping for groceries? You should be: You’ve had a lot on your mind. A survey for the Grocery Manufacturers of America (fielded by The Polling Company) examines the cogitations behind people’s purchase decisions. It’s clear that consumers don’t just grab whatever comes to hand. Rather, 25 percent always “consider the brand of a product before making a final selection,” and 51 percent often do so. If a favorite brand isn’t on the shelf, 36 percent make do with a different one. But 35 percent go without the item for the time being, and 25 percent “chase” the favored brand to another store. Why are people so loyal to some brands? It can be a matter of habit. Fifteen percent of respondents volunteered that they “continue using a brand because they used it while growing up.” In other words, the years of ads they’ve seen for other brands haven’t altered a preference they likely inherited from their parents. Similarly, 36 percent said they use a certain product “because their family had used it for a long time.” When consumers feel more likely to try a brand other than their usual, it’s most often due to a recommendation from someone they know (cited by 33 percent). Just 9 percent said they’re more likely to try a different brand because they’ve seen ads for it. While price is important, it’s not wholly decisive. Given a choice, 57 percent would buy a high-quality brand that costs more, vs.29 percent who’d buy a product of average quality that costs less. What factors do shoppers associate with quality? In an open-ended question, “freshness” topped the list (28 percent), followed by “taste” (21 percent) and “price” (13 percent). People are more likely to abandon a product because of a change in its taste (22 percent) than a loss of its benefits to their health(8 percent). Among other tidbits from the survey: Few respondents said they’d pay more for environmentally friendly food items (3 percent) or non-food grocery items (9 percent).