The consumer is never predictable for long…

Woolworths released their new campaign four days ago demonstrating a shift in positioning.  The new campaign, developed by Leo Burnett (Sydney) shows a reversal as Woolworths position themselves quality rather than price as demonstrated in their previous ‘Everyday Low Prices’ campaigns.  Furthermore, this campaign brings home the ‘Woolworths the Fresh Food People’, a message initiated by Leo Burnett 27 years ago.  This campaign is anticipated to run across paid and free to air television with 60 and 30 second iterations, print, online, radio and outdoor media until October.  What this campaign demonstrates is an interesting shift in positioning as it no longer places Woolworths and Coles in direct price-based competition; they are now competing on quality as well.  Woolworths are differentiating themselves on quality whereas Coles position themselves on price with their ‘down down’ campaign.

The way consumers shop in general is incredibly dynamic. Supermarkets have been forces to keep up though offering online shopping.  However the uptake of online supermarket shopping has been significantly slower in Australia in comparison to other countries such as the UK.  Through online shopping, the consumer misses out on the experience of visiting the supermarket and seeing the products. With the increase of mobile technology, it is easier than ever before for consumers to know where the specials are in the moment.  This makes it quicker for the consumer to purchase their groceries rather than waiting for them to be delivered.  Although changes within consumer behaviour in supermarkets extend past online shopping.  Previously there was a strong trend of consumers shopping at the most conveniently located supermarket.  Additionally, it was believed a consumer would not drive past one supermarket to attend another.  I feel this stance will be challenged in future research.  Furthermore, supermarkets have more competition than ever before.  The Australian landscape is still a duopoly of Woolworths and Coles however with Aldi entering the Australian market and the movement towards farmers markets, supermarkets have to compete for consumers.

Consumers are more knowledgeable than ever before.  Considering the uptake of mobile, a price comparison can be completed immediately.  It is no surprise Woolworths have found a reduction in consumers participating in the ‘big weekly shop’.  Woolworths have also found younger shoppers to be less habitual than older shoppers.  This is a cultural shift supermarkets have to be aware of.  Our younger generation are more spontaneous with less planning going into the weekly meals and with more supermarkets around, the younger consumer isn’t concerned about multiple visits to the supermarket.  Furthermore, this could be a reflection of the times where job security is low and consumers financial positions.  The modern consumer is also less loyal to a brand.  Yes all consumers have a repertoire of brands we shop from however we also have a repertoire of stores we shop from.  Additionally, American studies have shown 60% of shoppers will evade a favourite brand for a cheaper alternative.  This is a significant increase on previous studies.  The changes in supermarkets driven by consumer behaviour will be an interesting area of marketing in the future.

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