First to the Table
Q&A on Shopper Insights
With Laura Barry, VP, Consumer Insights & Shopper Engagement, Kraft Foods, Inc.
SN: How have shoppers been coping with the economic downturn? What does your research show?
Barry: Being more frugal over wasteful is out of necessity but also feels smart and savvy. Sixty percent of consumers say they're eating out less often, and half of consumers say they're cooking more at home. I don't mean cooking elaborate dinners from scratch. If they boil a pot of spaghetti or throwing some burgers on the grill, that's cooking at home.
SN: Why is that?
Barry: With the Retrenchment, it was more of getting the economics in line and really changing those behaviors about using more coupons, shifting to value channel, figuring things out, and making the budget work. The fourth stage is really a whole era of resourcefulness and what we're calling Bright Siding. Consumers are discovering new priorities and advantages from living a simpler life.
Consumers are connecting with their family more at home, and they're enjoying the time that they're spending together. Instead of everyone going out to a dark movie theater and not talking to one another, they're renting a movie and having a pizza at home and saving 100 bucks by doing so. They're playing board games. They're having people over where everybody brings a dish or having a backyard barbeque to get together versus an extravagant dinner out. So this solution or Bright Siding has, for most people, really been a positive experience.
We surveyed consumers and 61% of them agree that the events of the past have changed their attitudes. Three out of four consumers say they're going to use these new strategies when the economy recovers because it has enabled them to reconnect with the family and made them feel more empowered. Instead of doling out money every place, they're feeling a sense of confidence, of empowerment and resourcefulness called Bright Siding.
SN: So you're saying these changes to being value oriented are likely to be permanent?
Barry: Absolutely! This is a generalization, but I believe that consumers really didn't realize how creative their solutions could be – even in a simple way. They were just paying for stuff and probably spending more excessively than they needed to. Now they feel more savvy and clever. They like this practical approach to life by not being wasteful. This is a whole new wave of frugality.
The other thing that people have actually talked about is stretching their grocery dollars. How can they combine foods in creative ways to make them go further, and what ingredients do they need going into the week so they can make multiple dishes?
For example, they buy cheddar cheese. They're going to make tacos on Monday and another dish on Thursday leveraging similar ingredients. That's where Kraft has been helpful in terms of how to extend the ingredients into different meals for different occasions.
SN: How do all these changes apply to grocery shopping, and what is Kraft doing to fit into this?
Barry: One thing consumers are doing is “eating down” the pantry and freezer. When you refill them, make sure that you're buying the staples that you can really leverage in multiple ways. Don't buy excessively.
If a family of four, on average, spends about $100 a week on groceries, shoppers are saying that they'll put $100 in an envelope so they know that's how much they have to spend on food. They're trying not to use their credit cards. They'll think carefully about how to stretch their food dollars for the week. If they have $5 left over, they're not necessarily running to buy a coffee; they're using it for next week's meals. If they come across a good deal at the store, that's when they'll stock up on a particular item.
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Have a burning question related to shopper insights? Ask Kraft Foods' expert, Laura Barry, VP of Consumer Insights and Shopper Engagement for Kraft Foods North America.