Retail

MIDA: Puerto Rico consumers have ‘adapted’ to crisis

MIDA President Ferdysac Márquez MIDA President Ferdysac Márquez

Puerto Rican consumers in charge of making household food purchases are increasingly adapting their buying strategies to their economic circumstance, buying more generic or private-label goods, using manufacturers coupons and adding longer-lasting frozen foods to their shopping list.

Those were some of the findings revealed in this year’s Consumer X-Ray study, commissioned by the Marketing, Industry and Food Distribution Chamber, known as MIDA for its initials in Spanish, during its annual convention Thursday.

“It’s interesting to see how the buying agent is increasingly adapting their purchase to strategies largely dictated by their economic situation, to the extent that one of the visuals we saw today was of a consumer who said ‘they have their strategy and I mine’ referring to food retailers,” said MIDA President Ferdysac Marquez.

“Understanding what consumers think and their strategies to maximize their budget helps us as an industry to meet their needs and demands,” he said.

Among the study’s findings is the confirmation that 74 percent of buying agents are women, and that a household spends an average of $494 a month on food, of which 96 percent — or $474 — is spent at the grocery store.

“This shows that despite increasing competition from other formats, our industry is still the main channel for consumers,” said Manuel Reyes-Alfonso, MIDA’s executive vice president.

The study also confirmed a marked increate in the use of discount coupons, with 22 percent of consumers applying them at the register, representing a 6 percentage-point leap in comparison to 2012. Furthermore, more than half of consumers, or 52 percent, said they decide where to shop based on the coupon acceptance policy.

This finding is particularly interesting, given that Puerto Rican consumers have been slow in adopting a couponing culture. However, in recent years, large manufacturers — namely Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Colgate and even fast-food retailers — have been increasingly distributing coupons on a regular basis.

The X-Ray also shows that 83 percent of consumers are buying more generic or private-label brands, versus 76 percent last year, while 86 percent are buying frozen goods.

Gaither International conducted the study, which surveyed a sample consisting of 1,350 quantitative interviews between April and May 2013, which were added to a database of 9,800 interviews accumulated since 2006.

This edition of the study also revealed that two out of every five consumers admitted to having a garden at home, where they grow mostly herbs, bananas, plantains and peppers. When shopping, 84 percent of buyers will always or almost always include local products, as long as they are reasonably priced. That represents 4 percentage points above 2012’s results.

Ninety five percent of consumers are eating at home, while 85 percent of homes confirmed they eat together as a family at least once a week.

Author Details
Business reporter with 25 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 areas of the economy.

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