I plead guilty to enjoying a cold beer or two, and I’ve watched with amazement as the decade-long bull market in the craft beer industry shows no signs of abating.
When consumers think of value, they think of Wal-Mart, Target and Sony, according to a new study from the Integer Group and M/A/R/C Research.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> Drawing from the responses of approximately 20,000 U.S. shoppers in August, the survey asked which brands were perceived as offering value. More people named Wal-Mart (18 percent) than any other brand, followed by Target (10 percent), Sony (9 percent), Kroger (5 percent) and Kellogg's (5 percent).<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> Other top-rated value brands included Nike, Levi's and Ralph Lauren (clothing/shoes); Suave, Johnson & Johnson and Dove (cosmetics/toiletries); Honda, Toyota and Ford (cars/accessories/parts); Dell and Apple (electronics); and Kraft and Oscar Mayer (food/beverage).<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> The data was published in the December edition of the companies' shopper marketing report <i>The Checkout</i>. According to additional data in the report drawn from previous monthly surveys, consumers continued to seek brand purchases with retailers offering the best prices.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> In July, conversion rates--the percentage of shoppers who visit a store and make a purchase--were strongest at grocery (91 percent) and convenience stores (91 percent). Warehouse clubs (84 percent), mass merchandisers (83 percent) and drug stores (81 percent) rounded out the top five categories.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> Department (51 percent) and electronics stores (43 percent) experienced the greatest conversion losses, with almost half of shoppers leaving the store without completing a sale.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> According to Craig Elston, senior vice president of The Integer Group, the numbers show that consumers are still hesitant to give up their favorite brands and are looking to shop wherever they can get the best price.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> "As human beings, we all love brands because brands do so many different things for us, in terms of what they say about us, in terms of how mush trust we put in them and so on," he said. "We're seeing some savvy changes where people are prepared to put the time and effort to go around to different stores and use technology and mobile phones to be able to find the place where they can get the brand they want at a price that they feel is the best value."<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> It all comes down to perceived value, which the majority of consumers define as "a balance between quality and price," per the report. But with more consumers leaning on price as a determining factor in their buying decisions, should brands be worried? Elston believes that that is the question brands need to be asking right now.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> "The perception of the economic situation has caused us to look at how we gain access to brandsŠ How much of that behavior is going to stick?" said Elston. "At the end of the day when the good times start to roll again, we may very well go back to behaviors we had before. My instinct would be that it will be ever sort of mixed."