With South Africa officially in a recession, retailers and manufacturers will see a significant change in consumer purchase behaviour in the coming months – simply because this has already happened, according to a new report by BMi research.
The research is based on BMi Research’s latest consumer shopping behaviour survey, which sought to explore the impact of the current economic climate on South African consumers’ lifestyle and shopping behaviour and what drove consumers to seek value when grocery shopping.
“Consumers are now actively doing pre-shopping research either through broadsheets or online, and comparing retailers’ offerings to seek out the best value before even leaving the house,” said BMi’s Gareth Pearson.
“If competing stores offer greater savings on the products shoppers want, this is enough to compel them to move away from their preferred retailer and shop somewhere else,” he said.
This includes product substitutions (opting for cheaper brands) and downsizing on the amount of products they normally purchase.
Consumers would now rather buy multipurpose cleaners as opposed to many different cleaners for different uses, refill packs as opposed to original packs and frozen vegetables (which last longer) instead of fresh produce, said Pearson.
In some instances, consumers simply no longer purchase certain items, pointing to their extreme need for frugality in current market conditions.
BMi said that some of the specific items that consumers are no longer buying include:
- Bath foam and salts
- Branded body soap for kids
- Cheese spread
- Double ply toilet paper
- Breakfast cereals
- Tomato sauce
Added to this, consumers have also changed the way they use these products in their homes to maximise usage and minimise wastage.
This includes the alternative use of products, like using margarine in place of cooking oil and fragranced body lotion instead of perfume.
“Interestingly, where one would think consumers would buy in bulk to try net better savings, the research shows shoppers would actually rather buy single products instead of bulk items for immediate savings at the tills,” said Pearson.
“They also prefer multiple smaller pack sizes where collectively these are cheaper than larger pack sizes, and would rather buy smaller quantities of a product where they are not prepared to compromise on the brand.”