Cool to be Frugal

12 12 2008

piggy-bankAccording to Andy Bond, the Chief Executive of ASDA, its now becoming cool to be frugal and not so cool to be frivolous and wasteful. He feels that consumer’s shopping habits are changing and a new generation of shoppers who are thrifty are emerging as the credit crunch begins to bite even further.

So what does this really mean? It means that consumers will now focus more on products that offer them value for money and will aim to eliminate waste. Value for money doesn’t really mean something that is priced less or discounted. It is actually something that offers satisfaction and quality for its price. Consumers will increasingly try to differentiate their “needs” from their “wants” and think carefully if they really need something or do they just want it. For example, ASDA noted that consumers are beginning to shift from buying ready meals to buying ingredients and cooking at home. People are also beginning to mend or fix items rather than getting rid of them and buying new ones. Cobblers, for example, have seen their business increase since consumers are coming in to get their shoes mended rather than splashing out on a new pair. A quick search on Google Trends showed that visits to the comparison site moneysupermarket.com and myvouchercodes.co.uk which lists voucher codes across a variety of stores had more than doubled.

What’s really interesting is the 40% increase in the number of people who are ignoring best-before dates and consuming the product rather than throwing it in the bin once it is past its sell by date. Perhaps the increase has also something to do with the numerous reports on saving money on television featuring people who regularly consume food, as long as it looks fit, well past the best before date. Consumers are also freezing leftover food rather than wasting it and sales of bottled water and smoothies has also been said to have decreased since many are opting to fill tap water and eat fresh fruit instead.

It is important then that retailers spot this trend and adjust their business models accordingly in order to survive the downturn. Thrifty consumers would focus on long term value and would be willing to spend a little bit extra on an item that is likely to last longer than buy something cheaper in price which would also be cheaper in quality and hence not last as long. Rather than reducing prices on cheap Christmas stocking fillers that perhaps wont even last till next Christmas, retailers should instead focus on reducing prices on items that actually are of some use to the consumers. Also, thrifty consumers are less likely to buy items on impulse which retailers greatly depend on. So, businesses should make sure that they are really operating on a low cost model which aims to eliminate waste as that would be the only way that they would be able to offer low prices and good service at the same time.

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Children help their parents spend their money

14 11 2008
David Beckham in a Motorola advertisement

David Beckham in a Motorola advertisement

According to recent news, parents are unwittingly spending £191 million a year to fund their children’s shopping habits. Or rather, the children are doing it for them on their behalf to save their parents the trouble of doing so. According to a survey consisting of 500 parents and 500 children, around 20%, or 1 in every 5, children have admitted to using their parents’ credit card for their online purchases.

The items in the shopping basket include the latest electronics, games, etc. Put simply, items that are on every child’s wish list. The age of the children ranges from 8 to 16 years and the value of the average purchase is said to be around £25. Of the parents surveyed, only 2% felt that their children would purchase goods online without their permission. 20% of the children also knew their parents’ username and password for their shopping websites. This made it easy for them to access their accounts and place orders.

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The recent strain being put on personal finances due to the rise in prices and unemployment would have undoubtedly led to parents cutting back their spending on buying the latest gadgets and gizmos and branded fashion accessories for their children. This means that the children feel “left out” when all their peers have the latest mobile phone or mp3 player and they are stuck with the “old” one.

Certain companies prey on this insecurity that the children harbour by pressurising them to purchase, or rather pester their parents to purchase the products that are endorsed by their “heroes” whom they “look up to”. The advertising method is such that it sends out the message to youngsters that a brand name is much more important than they product itself. It is endorsed by a well-known celebrity and therefore it’s cool and fashionable to own it and most certainly well worth the expensive price tag.

Often, the prices of these products are 2-3 times the price of their unbranded, store own-brand or less known branded counterparts. The obvious reason for this is that it allows the companies to “skim” the market, or in other words, pricing their products higher than the competitors since they know that the consumers will still want to buy them.

In August this year, The Association of Teachers and Lecturers expressed concern when their research showed that children who didn’t have the latest gadgets or wear garments that didn’t sport a fashionable logo were often bullied and mocked by their peers.

The report also highlighted how “brand aware” the children are and how in the race to be up-to-date, they end up having low self esteem and self confidence because their “net worth” or “net value” amongst their peers is judged by the brands they own.

In essence, what these companies are doing is “adding value” to a product by merely associating it with their brand. So, what you end up paying for is the brand. Of course, many might argue that many branded products do offer good value for money because they are of a better build quality. And what you get in return for the premium charged is peace of mind that the product will last. No doubt, this is true. But then, this isn’t true in all cases.

Interestingly, 30% of the parents’ admitted to saving their banking details online.
If the children can easily access them, just imagine how easy it might be for a fraudster to access the details. Then the orders might not be for £25, but more like £2500.

http://ukpress.google.com/article/ALeqM5i_9ZhcHk7F5v3WAReNAjjeFmrMxg
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/7549770.stm
http://www.business-easy.blogspot.com





Sales at Poundland and Thorntons thrive

8 10 2008

Poundland, the single price retailer where everything costs £1, announced that its operating profit for the financial year ending March 2008 had risen by a staggering 122%. Its profits rose from £3.6 million to £8 million. This shows that consumers are abandoning traditional retailers and heading for discount stores to save money. However, the interesting thing is that Poundland claim that they have seen a 20% rise in shoppers belonging to the AB social class. AB social class consists of the upper middle class and the middle class and typical occupations include doctors, lecturers, accountants, company directors, etc. This is interesting because those belonging to this class are generally associated with shopping at stores such as M&S, John Lewis, etc. and would rarely be seen, or want to be seen, at a discount store. It seems nobody is immune to the credit crunch, not even the rich. The Times recently reported that Lakshmi Mittal, Britain’s richest man, recently saw the weight of his fortune become a little less heavier as he lost £16 billion due to the drop in the share prices.

Thorntons, the well known chocolate maker, announced that its sales for the first quarter had risen by 6.4%. In addition to its own stores, Thorntorns also has numerous franchisees and also sells to supermarkets. Sales in its own stores grew by 4.9%, while sales at franchise stores and retailers grew by 2.4% and 11% respectively. Although consumers are cutting their spending and avoiding expensive brands and switching to discount stores, they still like to treat themselves occasionally. Thorntons has a well known brand name and a reputation for quality. It has numerous products for under £5 many starting at around £1.15. Add this up and Thorntons has a product that is able to keep up its sales even when other products which are deemed a luxury suffer falling sales.
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M&S weather forecast-bleak in Britain, sunny in Shanghai

3 10 2008
M&S, Shanghai. Image Copyright M&S

M&S, Shanghai. Image Copyright M&S

Britain’s biggest clothing retailer, Marks & Spencer, announced yesterday (03 Oct) that like-for-like sales for stores including the new ones had fallen by 6%. Although this is’nt as much as John Lewis, who saw its sales drop by 8%, it is still bad. General merchandise, which includes homeware and clothing, saw a fall of 6.4% while food sales fell by 5.9%. This fall in sales is being attributed to consumers switching to cheaper brands offering better value for money. Afterall, when it begins to pinch in the pocket, brand loyalty is bound to be thrown out of the window. On a more optimistic note, M&S said that its promotion “Dine in for £10” was “spectacularly successful” and its online sales had increased by 34%.

On the bright side, the opening of M&S’s store in Shanghai yesterday was’nt any less of a spectacular success either. The store, situated on the Nanjing West Road, saw home-sick expatriates and the affluent Chinese middle-class queue up outside the store waiting to get their hands on traditional British merchandise. Apparently, items such as biscuits, jams, Double Devon Toffees, fisherman’s pie and digestive biscuits were amongst the most popular items. M&S is targeting the fast expanding Chinese middle-class with increasing disposable income. It hopes that its stores situated internationally will in the future account for 15%-20% of its revenues. Ironically, according to the Guardian, about 30% of non-food items that M&S sells are infact manufactured in China, but will have to be re-imported for licensing reasons.

http://business-easy.blogspot.com/2008/10/m-weather-forecast-bleak-in-britain.html





Tesco’s first half profit up 11%.

30 09 2008

Supermarket giant Tesco today announced a 11% rise in its half-year pre-tax profits which rose to £1.44 billion from £1.29 billion last year with sales rising 13% to £25.6 billion. Like-for-like sales grew by about 7% which seems very good especially since consumers are cutting back on their spending and discount retailers like Aldi, Lidl, Netto, Iceland, Wilkinsons, etc. are attracting customers from large supermarkets.

It was reported earlier this month that Tesco’s market share had decreased by 0.2% to 31.5%. However, it still has a much greater market share when compared to stores such as Aldi which has 2.9% market share which allows Tesco to benefit from economies of scale. This means it can buy its stock in relatively large numbers at lower cost which would normally allow it to increase its profit margin, but in the current financial situation, it allows Tesco to reduce its prices thereby attracting shoppers looking to reduce their grocery bills.

Tesco introduced a new discount range of about 400 products aptly named “Discount Range” with the aim to compete with discount stores and offer customers value for money. Tesco’s chief executive Sir Terry Laehy claimed that sales of its discount range was rising faster than that of Aldi or Lidl.





Food prices rise by 8.3%

6 09 2008

It was reported this week by the BBC that food prices have risen by 8.3% since January this year. This is based on the figures from a survey carried out by Verdict Research specifically for the BBC.

A packet of ham, a pack of four croissants and a medium sized chicken were among the seven products whose individual prices had risen by more then 40%. Among the 13 categories into which all the products were classified, Meat and Fish rose the highest, by 22.9%, followed by Store-cupboard items and Fresh Fruits and Vegetables which rose by 15% & 14.7% respectively.

Inflation is also affecting the sales of organic produce which fell by 8.1% as compared to last year according to the analysts TNS. Families with low income are unable to afford the high price of organic produce and more people are increasingly switching to buying supermarket own-brand products.

Supermarket Sainsbury’s believes that most people no longer perceive supermarket own-brand products in a negative manner nor are they embarrassed of buying them and are beginning shift to buying own-brand products to help cuts their costs. According to Marketing Week, Sainsbury’s research showed that a minority of the people believed that the brand they bought reflected on them as a person. To make the most of the current situation, Sainsbury’s launched an ad campaign on the 5th of September called “Switch & Save” to encourage their customers to buy the supermarket’s own-brand products. The link to watch the new Sainsbury’s advertisement is given below.

http://business-easy.blogspot.com/

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/7597703.stm

http://www.marketingweek.co.uk/cgi-bin/item.cgi?id=62302&d=254&h=5&f=3

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6u-P9C2obec