When economic times are tough, consumers around the world adopt consistent strategies to cut back and save money, but understanding market-by-market tactical variations is essential. Knowing how to scale goods and services across the world can be challenging when consumer diversity is a factor. Understanding brand position within a category and the retail demand landscape allows companies to adjust strategies and tactics in order to protect the most profitable shoppers.
New findings from the Nielsen Global Survey of Inflation Impact, which polled more than 29,000 Internet respondents in 58 countries, identified the countries, categories and retail channels that were more insulated to weather hard economic times and those that were more vulnerable. The study outlined tactics and strategies necessary to reach consumers across the world in these demanding and changing times.
While certain tactics resonated with strong consistency around the world, such as the increased propensity to purchase only sale-priced items (41%), other saving strategies aligned with regionally motivated shopping patterns. For example, transporting purchases and storage/refrigeration space was not an issue for half of respondents (50%) in North America who would stock up on regular-use items when they were on sale, compared with only one-third (34%) of Asia-Pacific respondents. But purchasing larger pack sizes was a strategy favored among 29 percent of respondents across all regions.
The speed and efficiency of online methods proved to be the platform of choice for saving money among one-third (32%) of all respondents. As online penetration continues to grow around the world, so too will the use of the Internet to search for deals. Interestingly, the use of online sources among respondents living in developing countries actually outperformed those in developed markets. While the survey captured the sentiment of only online respondents, these leading-indicator consumers will pave the way for others to follow. One-fourth (25%) of online respondents living in developing countries said they would shop more on the Internet if prices increased, compared with 14 percent of those living in developed countries. Similarly, 30 percent of developing country respondents would use social media to find specials, compared with 23 percent of those in developed countries.
Innovation is vital to sustaining profitability and building a strong platform for growth. Tactics that align with how consumers in different parts of the world think, plan and shop is vital for success:
- Europe: Inflation may be driving shoppers from local stores to chains, so understand pricing and promotional scenarios at the competition.
- Eastern Europe: Consumers look to find value, so deals at discounters, clearance and club stores, as well as the use of the Internet to find bargains, provide a strong avenue for marketing activities.
- Asia-Pacific: While the landscape varies from advanced markets like Japan to developing markets like Vietnam, the overall outlook is optimistic, as consumers are able to absorb rising food prices better than most. Shoppers are nimble in seeking food value, and they will switch retail formats and price hunt both in-store and online.
- China: Strong saving ethics shield consumers better than most from rising food prices, but consumers shift from convenience, specialty and kiosk retailers in favor of supermarkets and mass retailers and online retailers during inflationary times.
- India: The growth of modern trade will provide more private-label opportunities, but food inflation may put a damper on this development, as Indians are less likely to shop the very large merchandiser and grocery outlets that could support private-label development.
- Middle East/Africa: Money is tight and true value, differentiation and benefits are necessary as consumers make tradeoffs for non-essential purchases in favor of at-home meals. Channel switching from convenient one-stop shopping hyper and supermarkets to low-price outlets and local/fresh markets is evident so messaging that focuses on price and value is important.
- Latin America: Trading down behavior is evident during times of inflation, and consumers will increase purchasing of basic categories like cereal, fruit, vegetables and dairy. Consumers will stretch their dollars by shopping more at discount, clearance and outlet stores.
- North America: Consumers have less discretionary income and savings and will switch to private label brands, look for deals, and stock up on essentials. Consumers are willing to compromise recreational activities, snacking and buying new clothes.
Other findings include:
- Global middle class: A state of mind or a share of wallet?
- Categories with staying power and those at risk in inflationary times.
- How to deconstruct the global demand landscape when prices rise.
- Why private labels are not for everyone—yet.
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 Feb. 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.