Puerto Rico consumer attitudes vary significantly based on two factors: where they live and who they live with, with sharp contrasts reflected between people living along the island’s eastern coast and the west, according to the results of a study commissioned by the Puerto Rico Marketing, Industry and Food Distribution Chamber (MIDA for its Spanish acronym).
This year’s edition of the trade group’s annual Consumer X-Ray study, to be presented in full during MIDA’s annual convention July 9-13, comprises qualitative and quantitative aspects to paint a full picture of local consumer trends and behaviors, said MIDA President Ferdysac Márquez.
“For the first time, we’ve reinforced the traditional quantitative study with a qualitative study with direct observation of consumers in their natural environment at the time of purchase. This was carried out by the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras campus. Through this methodology we were able to delve into the attitudes and behaviors of the consumer at the time of purchase,” Márquez said.
“From the geo-referential perspective, we see how a region behaves differently from another and how that translates into opportunities for the local industry,” said Beatriz Castro, president of Gaither International, which was responsible for conducting the quantitative analysis, as it has done for the past nine years.
Other firms that worked on this year’s study included RGG Consulting, the Estudios Técnicos firm, the UPR’s School of Business Administration and a new committee tha represents different industry sectors.
During a news conference Monday, Castro said Census data from the United States and the Puerto Rico Planning Board shows two very different macro-economic realities in the island’s east and west regions. The east has managed to maintain a higher population and socio-economic index — with a higher purchasing power — compared to the west. The Consumer X-Ray’s data not only validated this reality, but framed a number of differences between consumers in these regions that can be converted into strategic opportunities for the retailer and the manufacturer, she said.
The findings point to a western-area consumer who is more sensitive to price, more inclined to look for special offers and who has a greater openness to discussing a purchase with shopping companion. Meanwhile, consumers in the east show more loyalty to certain brands and are more impulsive.
While in the western side, 57 percent of consumers tend to consider ads while at the store, 42 percent do so at home before going shopping. In turn, 79 percent of eastern area shoppers use the in-store ad once at the establishment, only 25 percent takes a look at it at home before heading to the store, the study revealed.
With regards to discount coupons, the study concludeed that 21 percent of western area residents use using this method to make their purchases and 62 percent consider it important when choosing a store. In the east, 14 percent of shoppers use coupons and 47 percent places importance on this method of payment when deciding where to make their purchases.
The study also showed that more than half of shoppers have noticed changes in areas such as prices, employees and inventory at the point of sale in the past year.
“In addition to analyzing the data by region, we looked into the people who influence the decision-making process when it comes to purchases,” Castro said.
There are about 1.35 million so-called “purchasing agents” in Puerto Rico, of which 750,000 are usually not alone when shopping. Of those 52 percent go shopping with their spouse, 32 percent go with their children, and 11 percent with another relative. Of those, spouses and children are the msot influential when it comes to deciding what to buy, the study showed.