Today’s consumer changing drastically


April Forristall, assistant editor

Published on
March 15, 2010

The recession has forced consumers to drastically change their shopping patterns, and it is more important than ever for retailers to understand who is buying their product. That was the main message that Steve Lutz, executive VP of the Perishables Group, and Butch Brougher, associate client director at Nielsen Co., projected at the “How the Economy is Changing Consumer Seafood Purchases,” at the 2010 International Boston Seafood Show Monday 15 March.

“Consumers are responding very strongly to value opportunities,” said Lutz. “The new reality is that value has been established as a retail driver.”

Lutz used the lobster example to demonstrate the importance of value to consumers. Despite being typically thought of as a luxury item, in 2009 lobster prices dropped 10 percent, which drove up consumer purchases.

“Couponing is very, very hot in today’s economy,” said Brougher. “Even very high-end households are very big users.”

Demographics of seafood consumers vary by type and determine in the locations that species will sell, and at what prices, said Brougher.

“We’re also seeing people moving away from beef and buying other proteins,” he said. “From 2008 to 2009, seafood purchases were up 3.4 percent, whereas purchases of beef were only up 2.1 percent.”

However, it is also important for retailers to remember that it is not just price that is driving consumers. Both Lutz and Brougher pointed out that health is a huge driver for shoppers, which is a boon for heart-healthy seafood.

Research from the Perishables Group shows that 82 percent of consumers said they bought more seafood products in 2009 over 2008 because they are trying to eat healthier.

In addition, Nielsen research on label claims show that products boasting omega-3 fatty acids is a huge trend with consumers today.

“Omega is the hottest label claim out right now,” said Brougher. “You have to promote that as much as you can.”

More coverage of the 2010 International Boston Seafood Show >

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