A new survey from Deloitte showed only 31% of brands are considered "must-have," defined in the report as one shoppers purchase even if not on sale. In another blow to household names, 88% of consumers find store brands to have the same quality as national ones.
During the recession, consumers tightened their belts and pinched pennies. Almost six years after the recession, shoppers aren't letting their frugality fall to the wayside, much to the chagrin of manufacturers. The report suggests some 94% of shoppers will remain cautious about spending, even if the economy gets better.
"The consumer has become crafty and they're getting more intelligent about how they shop," says Rich Nanda, principal in Deloitte's consumer products practice. "We think this is the new normal."
Consumers are also making better use of the information available to them. Some 60% of respondents time purchases accordingly and know when an item goes on sale. Sale items are posted in the store's circular, which is not a new phenomenon, but shoppers are paying more attention and aligning their shopping lists to what's printed in the circular.
Aside from consumer awareness, Nanda says technology is also a factor, particularly with Millennials. Some 65% of respondents ages 21 to 29 said online advertisements made them aware of items they want to buy, while 64% said they compare product prices using smartphone apps and websites.
As with any changing business environment, manufacturers need to be quick to adapt.
"There is lots of work being done when it comes to discounting and the effectiveness of promotions, which aren't as attractive to the manufacturer as they used to be," Nanda adds.
From investing in analytics to rethinking how to engage with consumers via social media, manufacturers are getting more creative. "While running a promotion, some manufacturers have been digitally sending recipes to shoppers via email or doubling down on in-store sampling," he says.
As for consumers looking to maximize savings, the store's circular and smartphone app should be the starting point. From there, adopt the conventional, yet impactful, strategies of couponing and buying in bulk when an item is on sale.
Plus, keep in mind the premium you're paying when buying prepared foods. A container full of chopped fruits or vegetables is undoubtedly convenient, but you'll pay a lot less by cutting up the fruit yourself at home.
Also, don't underestimate the value of store loyalty programs, which are often free, but spawn significant savings and freebies over time.