Categories with Staying Power and Those At Risk in Inflationary Times

Categories with Staying Power and Those At Risk in Inflationary Times

When it comes to rising food prices, nearly everyone feels the pain. And that pain is affecting purchasing decisions at the grocery store and elsewhere. Notably, 85 percent of global respondents to a recent Nielsen online survey said that higher food costs affected their choice of grocery products. But higher food expenses can have a ripple effect and alter spending behavior in other areas as well. The top ways that respondents in all corners of the world would change their spending habits included dining out (64%), buying new clothes (55%), spending on snacks (45%), paying for recreation and entertainment (44%) and traveling for vacation (39%).

The Nielsen Global Survey of Inflation Impact polled more than 29,000 Internet respondents in 58 countries to understand how respondents around the world of all income ranges were coping with rising food prices. The study identified the countries, categories and retail channels that were more insulated to weather hard economic times and those that were more vulnerable.

As consumers make trade-offs, determining which categories have staying power and which ones are more vulnerable is critical as consumers make tough in-store decisions. While buying more of anything is a challenge when wallets are squeezed, there were several categories that demonstrated resilience. The one category that rose to the top across all regions was loose, unpackaged, unbranded cereal (such as rice, wheat and grains), as 14 percent of all respondents said they would buy more of this category if food prices increased. Fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, and canned fruits and vegetables were also stock-up essentials among 11 percent and 8 percent of all respondents, respectively.

More than half of global respondents had no plans to change their shopping routine for staple categories like dairy products (68%), meat and poultry (62%), bread and bakery goods (60%), packaged foods (55%) and fish and seafood (52%).

Buying propensity that often exceeded the global average was found in many developing countries, and India and China consistently had the highest percentage of respondents indicate they would buy more dairy, packaged foods, packaged cereal products, bread and bakery products, fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables if food prices increased.

Categories most vulnerable during inflationary times, and the ones that half of all respondents said they would buy less frequently, included discretionary products such as candies, cookies and other sweets (59%), chips and other snack foods (58%), carbonated beverages (53%), alcoholic beverages (49%), prepared meals (48%) and convenience foods (45%).


Other findings include:

  • Global middle class: A state of mind or a share of wallet?
  • How to deconstruct the global demand landscape when prices rise.
  • Why private labels aren’t for everyone—yet.
  • Strategies you should deploy and marketing levers you can pull when prices rise.

For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Inflation Impact report.

About the Nielsen Global Survey

The Nielsen Global Survey of Inflation Impact was conducted between February 18 and March 8, 2013 and polled more than 29,000 online consumers in 58 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and North America. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on their Internet users, and is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers and has a maximum margin of error of ±0.6%. This Nielsen survey is based on the behavior of respondents with online access only. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60 percent Internet penetration or 10 million online population for survey inclusion. The Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Index, was established in 2005.