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Synovate survey finds majority of Americans shop with a grocery list, prefer local food brands and think grocery items are over-priced


CHICAGO — Global market intelligence firm Synovate today released data from its global grocery shopping survey, revealing six in ten people across 10 countries shop with a grocery list, led by Malaysians (75%) and Americans and Canadians (both 74%), 72% of Americans prefer to buy local food brands, 49% of American shoppers want nothing more than to ’get in and get out’ and 65% of American grocery shoppers think items are over-priced.

Mark Berry, Synovate’s Executive Vice President of Shopper Insights research, said grocery shopping is something most people have to do, some reluctantly and some with a sense of anticipation and pleasure.

“Grocery retailers need to take into account myriad attitudes and approaches, and make the experience satisfying for customers and profitable for the company. Like all marketers, to get that balance right, they need to know how people feel, their habits and what they like.”

Synovate asked more than 6,700 people across 10 markets to spill the beans on their grocery shopping approach.

Aisle style

Even seemingly simple questions like ’how often do you shop?’ and ’where?’ inspire vastly different answers from market to market, culture to culture. Overall, a big weekly shop in the supermarket is the ’norm’, with 39% of respondents across the 10 markets doing this. Results were then evenly split at 17% each across ’one big shop a month plus extras’, ’every day’ and ’whenever I have time’.

Fifty-seven percent of American grocery shoppers do one big shopping trip a week, and 23% do their big shop on a monthly basis. Daily shoppers were found in Serbia (48%) and Russia (37%). Americans and Malaysians are the least likely to shop for groceries daily, both at 4%.

Overall, most respondents chose the supermarket as the place they buy their groceries (64%), followed by big hypermarkets / superstores (37%) and local non chain grocery stories (29%). The Dutch (97%) and Americans (89%) are the most likely to shop at supermarkets.

Only 10% of Americans say they do their grocery shopping at superstores while about one quarter (23%) claim to want a ’one-stop-shop’ where they can take care of their grocery and other retail needs.

Almost half (48%) of Americans would buy groceries online if they could be sure the service was secure and they would receive the highest quality food.

Forty-four percent of Americans also say that loyalty programs are an important incentive when deciding where to shop.

It’s about spending money...

Synovate’s survey also looked at attitudes towards the money spent in the world’s supermarkets.

Overall, 40% of people say they are spending less than they did 12 months ago, including 39% of Americans. While 62% of people globally said they would readily switch food brands if they found a cheaper alternative, the French (81%) and Americans (78%) were the most likely to agree that they would do this.

Berry said that what has transpired over the past year or so has been truly extraordinary.

"It’s maybe only once or twice a decade - if that - when events occur that make the consumer rethink everything they do related to virtually all of the money they spend or invest. Of course this means they are rethinking or considering all the products they buy or don’t buy. This runs the full gamut from big decisions like cars and TVs, all the way through to frozen food, water or coffee.

“Retailers’ every little promotional decision has become important in this climate. It has also reinforced how powerful the core proposition and positioning of a brand can be - take Wal-Mart’s performance as an example.”

Other money-related findings on grocery shopping:

* 46% of people across 10 markets buy grocery items in bulk to help save money, led by UAE (77%), Malaysia (61%), and the US (58%).
* Over three quarters of the people surveyed agree that grocery items are over-priced and should be cheaper, including 65% of Americans.
* Eight in ten people think the government in their country should do more to monitor food prices, led by 94% in Serbia and 93% in Malaysia. Americans were the least likely to agree with this, at 41%.

Go for groceries and gossip?

Would shopping be better if there were different facilities? People in some markets think so though Americans are among the least interested in grocery stores trying to become things to more people.

* 48% of people overall think adding a community or gathering place for people to meet friends and family was an interesting idea, though only 26% of Americans like this idea.
* 59% of survey respondents think a playground is a good idea, topped by 86% in Serbia and 80% in Malaysia but the idea did not interest the Dutch (70% disagree) or Americans (66%).
* More than half (56%) think the feeling of being outside, even while being inside, would be interesting, though the Dutch (65% disagree) and Americans (53%) again aren’t interested.

Americans and the Dutch are clearly more ’no-frills’ when it comes to their grocery shopping experience.

“When it comes to grocery shopping the only kind of change Americans seem to want is the kind that goes in their wallet,” said Laurel Ashbrook, Senior Vice President of Consumer and Business Insights for Synovate in the US. “They are not really interested in a modified format for stores and, in a still uncertain economy, the best bet for US grocery retailers is to keep prices and frills to a minimum.”

Green groceries and sustainable supermarkets

Clearly all-things-green are a major consideration for any business. And with 62% of people agreeing they would go out of their way to shop at an environmentally-friendly supermarket, that consideration is not misplaced. This drive-to-green is led globally by 86% of Russian respondents and 85% of Malaysians while the Dutch (18%) and Americans (22%) are least interested in this.

Across the 10 markets surveyed, 79% of respondents found the idea of recycling facilities in supermarkets and grocery stores interesting. Ninety percent of people in Brazil (the highest among all markets surveyed) agreed it was a good idea compared to 72% of people in the US.

About the survey

This Synovate survey on grocery shopping was conducted in July 2009 across 10 markets - Brazil, Canada, France, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Netherlands, Russia, Republic of Serbia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the United States of America (US). It covered over 6,700 grocery shoppers.

About Synovate
Synovate, the market research arm of Aegis Group plc, generates consumer insights that drive competitive marketing solutions. The network provides clients with cohesive global support and a comprehensive suite of research solutions. Synovate employs over 6,400 staff across 62 countries.

For more information on Synovate visit


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