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For Consumers, Value Means More Than Price

Quality, relevance, experience and convenience also key factors: FMI
FMI Trends 2023 Cover Main Image
FMI's new analysis identified several common considerations for how consumers think about value, both for the food and beverages they buy and the stores and channels they shop, at a time of lingering inflation.

A recent survey of grocery shoppers by FMI – The Food Industry Association for its “U.S. Grocery Shopping Trends 2023” series has found that the definition of “value” has come to include more than price.

The analysis identified several common considerations for how consumers think about value, both for the food and beverages they buy and the stores and channels they shop, at a time of lingering inflation. Quality, relevance, experience and convenience are major parts of this broader idea of value.

“Understanding how dramatically grocery shoppers are expanding their definition of value is imperative for the food industry as consumers adjust their purchasing patterns and habits amid continued economic uncertainty,” noted Leslie G. Sarasin, president and CEO of Arlington, Va.-based FMI. “This report highlights that price is not necessarily the be-all-end-all when it comes to shopper perceptions of value, and also that the notion of value itself has become an increasingly more complex, subjective and even personal calculation.” 

While shoppers said that receiving good value is a priority across all income and demographic levels, younger shoppers are the ones moving the definition of value toward a more holistic measurement that goes beyond the traditional price-to-quantity ratio. Demographic explorations within the report found, for example:

  • At 62%, Millennials said they prefer to minimize food waste by buying only what they need, a strategy based on relevance.
  • Convenience and a pleasant shopping experience are also key drivers of value for younger shoppers: 47% of Millennials said they would spend more money to avoid shopping at several stores, while 50% said they would spend more to shop at more pleasant stores, versus just 16% of Baby Boomers who expressed those sentiments.
  • Younger shoppers are also more willing to purchase the best-quality items, regardless of price: Fifty-two percent of Millennials and 42% of Gen Zers expressed that sentiment, compared with 22% of Baby Boomers.

Among the 75% of shoppers who said they were concerned about rising food prices, two strategies are being used consistently across all income levels: increased deal seeking and purchasing more store brands.

According to Sarasin: “There is a perception that shopping in-store is the best method for getting good value. This belief is shared across all generations, although younger shoppers are more flexible and more likely to see value in both online and in-store shopping, depending on the situation.”

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