retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Market research firm Decision Analyst is out with a new study reinforcing something that has been widely reported – that economically challenged consumers increasingly are using coupons and buying less expensive private label brands from supermarkets.

The firm says that 40.2 percent of those surveyed during the fourth quarter of 2008 are buying the least expensive product, regardless of the brand, compared to under 34 percent who said the same thing a year earlier. In addition, 52.1 percent of those surveyed said they regularly cut out coupons, compared to 48 percent who said so a year earlier.

“Retailers seldom invest enough money in consumer product testing to optimize their private label brands, and few retailers have adequate private-label, quality control monitoring systems,’’ said Diane Brewton, senior vice president of Decision Analyst. “But if retailers can get their act together, they could achieve major private label gains during 2009, and hold those gains even after the economy improves.”

In a related story, the Wall Street Journal reports this morning that “more shoppers are using coupons to stretch their grocery budgets. In the past four months, coupon usage has surged about 10%, according to Inmar Inc., a coupon-processing agent. And increasingly, shoppers are skipping the scissors and getting coupons online or having discounts sent to their smart phones and rewards cards.

“Currently, online coupons account for 1% of all coupons offered nationwide – but their use is growing quickly, with redemptions jumping 140% last year, according to Inmar. Manufacturers are attracted to digital-coupon delivery in part because of its 13% redemption rate -- far above the 1% redemption rate for coupons found mostly in newspaper inserts, on the back of sales receipts and on product packaging.”

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