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Consumer X-Ray: Puerto Rico buyers savvier, more strategic

MIDA President Ferdysac Márquez and Diana Rodríguez, who chaired the Consumer X-Ray committee discuss some of the study's findings Tuesday.

MIDA President Ferdysac Márquez and Diana Rodríguez, who chaired the Consumer X-Ray committee discuss some of the study’s findings Tuesday.

The 21st edition of the Marketing, Industry and Food Distribution Chamber’s “Consumer X-Ray” study shows a Puerto Rican consumer who has evolved and adapted to an economic crisis that is not yet over, to become a “strategic, savvy buyer.”

And the new habits acquired during tough times are here to stay, according to the comprehensive study that will be revealed in its entirety on June 20, when the trade group known as MIDA will celebrate its annual convention.

Among other findings, the X-Ray shows that consumers are favoring ready-to-eat food that can be prepared to eat at home, gravitating toward less expensive private-label (or generic) brands as well as locally produced goods, and are increasingly accepting and using manufacturer discount coupons.

“The study gives us a clear picture of how the buyer has evolved when we hear them say ‘They have their strategy and I have mine,’ which we believe sums up the most significant findings of this study,” said MIDA President Ferdysac Márquez. “That is the key indicator that lets us know that we have to continue evolving as an industry and move ever closer to that buyer who year after year, is more knowledgeable of the market.”

The study reveals that 95 percent of consumers are eating at home and often favor ready-to-eat items that can be easily prepared. Meanwhile, nine out of 10 consumers are willing to increase their consumption of local products and 86 percent confirm being familiar with the “Hecho en Puerto Rico” (“Made in Puerto Rico”) brand used to identify island goods.

Interestingly, the study confirmed that two out of every five households are growing produce at home, specifically aromatic herbs used in cooking. About 46 percent of the buyers in this group fall into the “baby boomer” category.

For the study, MIDA commissioned Gather International to conduct 1,350 interviews between April and May 2013, sampling consumers islandwide. The study also relied on a database of 9,800 interviews accumulated since 2006, as well as a series of focus groups to validate the findings.

Diana Rodríguez, who chaired the X-Ray committee, said the study depicted a buyer who, if dissatisfied with a retailer or the products available, will walk away from a purchase.

“The buyer is not limited to being a mere spectator, they know what they want and through the study told us their suggestions for how grocers can best meets their needs,” she said.

While 68 percent of consumers have changed their product preference if they can’t find it on the shelves, another 49 percent admitted they were willing to go to other retail outlets — bakeries, pharmacies or gas station convenience stores — to find it.

Meanwhile, the study also confirmed that nine out of 10 consumers are now buying private-label products instead of national brands. However, the specific categories were not revealed.

Manufacturers coupons gaining traction
One of the questions included in the analysis refers to the use of manufacturers discount coupons in Puerto Rico — a practice that has been growing in recent years.

This year’s X-Ray confirms that one out of five consumers on the island is applying this type of payment method to their purchases. That 20 percent is three percentage points above the 17 percent reported in the 2012 study and somewhat reinforces a movement that has been taking place among local manufacturers and retailers to include coupons in their marketing strategies.

“We see a marked difference in the profile of consumers who are using manufacturers coupons. It’s the younger generation who is using them most, especially those that are available online, or via their smartphone apps,” said Rodríguez. “The older generation, although they know of them, are still having a hard time managing how to use them. Still, the manufacturer coupon today is just a valid a tool as the store flyers are.”

Edith Tapia, founder and manager of the Cuponeando en Puerto Rico website, said the year-over-year growth is “proof that more and more Puerto Ricans are looking for creative alternatives to stretch their money to the max.”

“I think the retailer or manufacturer that doesn’t pay attention and/or chooses not to use this win-win marketing strategy risks losing customers and seeing a drop in sales as couponers will be loyal to the company that helps them in these times of economic crisis,” Tapia said.

Aside from unveiling the X-Ray, MIDA has a full schedule of educational seminars lined up around the convention’s “Transforming the island from the table” theme.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 29 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.


  1. Cuponeando PR May 29, 2013

    Manufacturer’s Coupons are her to stay. That number will keep growing because Puerto Rican consumers are smart.

  2. Diana Padilla May 29, 2013

    Thanks for the story, in my case I use the discount coupons as financial intelligence. I’ve only been three months and I have a mini store products already.

  3. Giovanni May 29, 2013

    As a full time student, I use manufacturer coupons as a way to stretch my household budget. Couponing has dramatically helped me to get the things I need at a lower cost. Now, I can even share groceries and goods with my relatives when I get good deals. I hope local and international stores keep getting more involved with coupon policies and updating their scanning equipment so customers with coupons can enjoy better shopping experiences.

  4. Yai Couponer May 29, 2013

    I’ve always have been a smart spender, I always said to my self why spend $10 for a shirt when I can get it for $5 at the clearance isle. I’m the type of person who is always looking for deals. Then back in September 2012 for some reason I found Cuponeando en Puerto Rico (which i try to remember how I found it but i can’t, I’m just glad I did). When I started to read the info and saw pictures of couponers purchases, i was like omg where have you been all my life. It was not until November that i put everything I learned to the test. My first coupon haul was on black Friday pretty intense but I manage through. Now my mom got into it 😀 I am really glad that I found CPR and thankful to Edith Tapia for her hard work and taking her time to help others.

  5. Wanda Gisela May 30, 2013

    Saludos. Agradezco enormemente como Cuponista y creadora de la pagina W.G. Cuponista, la informacion que acaba de publicar. Es cierto que en PR ya el consumidor es uno intelegente, que planifica sus compras y utiliza sabiamente los Cupones de Descuento de Manufacturero. El camino no es facil, pero gracias a personas como Cuponeando en PR, y otras Cuponistas Profesionales, el este movimiento de ahorro llego para quedarse.
    Particularmente llevo varios anos cuponeando en el anonimato, pero entendi, gracias a mi amiga Edith Tapia, que el mensaje hay que esparcirlo para que siga creciendo.
    El cuponismo inteligente no es una moda, es un estilo de vida, que las grandes cadenas y sus estrategas de mercado se han dado cuenta que funciona y atrae a clientes a seguir adquiriendo sus productos.
    Es penoso que empresas “Nativas” como GoyaPR excluya del uso de sus cupones de descuentos al consumidor puertorriqueno. Ya otras mega empresas como Kraft, Bking, PG, Nabisco, han visto que cada dia somos mas y nos han dado el beneficio de disfrutar de magnificos descuentos en sus productos gracias a sus cupones.
    Tenemos fe que sean mas los manufactureros que apliquen sus cupones de descuento en Puerto Rico.
    GoyaPR es un bochorno para el consumidor puertorriqueno


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