Because of the impact of the coronavirus crisis on the finances of millions of Americans, many consumers in the U.S. have since adjusted their shopping habits in an effort to save more money.
Earlier this month, IRI, a market research firm based in Chicago, published the results of its Consumer Connect Survey that looked at consumer shopping behaviors and sentiments toward loyalty programs. The survey found that while consumer sentiment is up somewhat from 2020, when it hit its lowest point since 2016, shoppers are continuing to prioritize deals above all else.
Consumers hunt for in-store deals amid the COVID-19 pandemic
Compared to their shopping behaviors in early 2020, the Consumer Connect Survey found that shoppers are now visiting fewer stores to find deals and clipping fewer coupons in an effort to reduce safety risks during the current health crisis.
However, consumers are continuing many of their in-store practices to secure lower grocery bills, including:
- Making an effort to purchase needed groceries when they’re "on sale"
- Buying store brand products to save money
- Making additional or unplanned purchases if in-store deals are good
- Trying new, lower-priced brands to save money
This supports results from a previous survey conducted by market research firm Dunnhumby that found that Americans are more price-conscious when it comes to their grocery bill than consumers in other countries — a tendency that has only been magnified by recent price hikes during the pandemic.
Unsurprisingly, the IRI survey also found that usage of less-risky shopping options like ordering online for in-store pickup or getting home delivery have increased since last year. These trends may outlast the pandemic, as another survey by grocery delivery service Good Eggs found that 81% of shoppers who started using grocery delivery services during the pandemic plan to continue to do so.
Money-saving mentality extends to loyalty programs as well
IRI also looked at consumer behaviors related to shopper loyalty programs, finding that such programs play a large role in where consumers decide to shop. In fact, 51% of survey participants said that shopper loyalty programs were "somewhat influential" in their decision, while 22% said it was "extremely influential."
The biggest reasons that consumers signed up for loyalty programs were:
- No subscription costs (74%)
- Discounts for gas and fuel (56%)
- The ability to use points for purchases (55%)
- Cash rewards (39%)
Meanwhile, consumers were less motivated when it came to reasons related to exclusivity and convenience, such as:
- Access to special members-only events (25%)
- Access to new products (13%)
- Options for mobile checkout (12%)
As far as the categories in which consumers are most likely to sign up for rewards programs, drugstores, grocery stores and online subscription services like Amazon and Instacart topped the list. Respondents were least likely to have loyalty or reward memberships at convenience stores like 7-Eleven and Circle K and at dollar-store retailers, such as Dollar General and Family Dollar.
Methodology: Data from IRI’s Consumer Connect Survey is gathered every quarter from a nationally representative sample of over 2,000 participants.