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Analysis: High-end consumers are clipping coupons in search of a shopping ROI


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Shoppers are just as promotion-driven as they have been since economists first coined the term the "new normal" economy — and that's not likely to change, according to a new "The Why? Behind the Buy" report released Wednesday by Acosta Sales.

Acosta has dubbed the new normal shopper "Shopper Inc.," given today's inclination toward taking an extremely prepared and educated approach to the grocery trip. As many as 72% are making a list for their routine shopping trip, with 54% buying more items on sale, and 33% going online or using apps to save money all in an effort to realize a return on investment, or ROI.

Acosta advises retailers and manufacturers to not only expect conservative spending behavior to continue, but also to develop strategies for consumers at either end of the spectrum. "There are two economies, one for under $50K and one for more than $50K," the report read. "Understand the increasing divide between low-to-middle income households and higher-income households, and what it may mean for your brand."

Approximately 10% of households generated less than $45,000 in annual income or utilizing food stamps, and one-third matched their primary shopping trip to their paycheck. Due to increased gas prices, they are consolidating trips, buying more items on sale, buying more store brands, switching to less expensive brands, buying fewer groceries overall, as well as doing without specific products.

Households earning more than $100,000 in annual income are not necessarily looking to spend less, but they are pre-planning more to be smarter shoppers. They are more likely to clip coupons and decide which brand/product to buy based on the circular and what’s on sale. In store, they are more likely to compare the price-per-oz. part of the tag and look at the package when making their decisions. They also are more likely to try new products and to buy healthier products even if they are more expensive, according to Acosta.

Traditional store circulars remain among the most popular promotional items for shoppers, with 85% reporting that store circulars influence them and nearly 50% said they clip coupons from the circulars. And while traditional sales tactics continue to be more widely used than digital offerings at the grocery counter, digital is increasing in influence, with 33% of shoppers going online to save money via online coupons, retailer and brand websites, and email subscriptions.

Acosta conducts "The Why? Behind the Buy" survey two times per year. The respondents are more than 1,000 shoppers, randomly selected across all generational, economic and ethnic groups across the United States. The current survey was fielded in July 2011. To access the full report, visit (a free registration is required).

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