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The Great Shopper Shuffling: Changing Long-Held Buying Habits

Survey affirms shifts in consumer behavior during still-tumultuous times
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
A new report from Vericast shows how different age demographics are changing up their shopping habits.

As high inflation persists – and as the second straight quarter of gross domestic product contraction signals a looming recession – new market research confirms that shoppers are changing up long-held buying habits.

According to the latest trend report from marketing company Vericast, the simultaneous challenges of supply chain backlogs, surging prices and the lingering effects of the pandemic have spurred shoppers to change how and what they buy. Vericast’s "2022 CPG and Grocery Trend Watch" survey found that 61% of U.S. adults believe that rising prices are a major challenge and almost a third are regularly switching products because their preferred product is not available.

Inflation-driven changes are rippling throughout demographics, Vericast’s research found. Older consumers in the Baby Boomer generation are the most sensitive when it comes to price, with 83% of shoppers in this age bracket citing price as their biggest challenge and many reporting that they are looking for coupons both online and in print.

Millennial parents are also feeling the pinch, with 53% saying that they are struggling to afford essentials. Higher food and fuel costs are leading two-thirds of them to shop at fewer stores.  

Even a majority (57%) of affluent shoppers cite skyrocketing prices as a hurdle when shopping for food, health and beauty, personal care and household items in store or line. These well-off consumers report that they are stockpiling products, shopping more online and using cashback apps or rebates more frequently.

“Consumers across all key demographics are switching shopping gears in this economic environment,” confirmed Aimee Englert, executive director, client strategy at San Antonio-based Vericast. “Marketers who understand this and plan accordingly will be top of mind as buyers focus on value and saving. To successfully retain and acquire new shoppers, marketers must know how different segments spend, their unique behaviors, and how to capture their attention quickly and effectively.”

As consumers across all demographics adjust to the volatile economic situation, they are divvying up their shopping experiences. For example, Millennials expressed a willingness to pay for the convenience of subscription services, but most of those in this age group still rate the in-store experience higher than online shopping.

The youngest shoppers who are part of Gen Z are digital natives and hence most influenced by social media advertising when deciding whether to shop at a new store or website or try a new product, according to Vericast's survey. Half of Gen Z consumer use their phone when shopping in-store and nearly half (48%) are interested in virtual reality to see how products can fit into their lives.

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