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Study: Bargains Not Always Key

A recent study by Kantar Retail found that trip missions differ by retailer.

A recent study by Kantar Retail found bargains are not always a prime motivator of shopping trips.

The study compared the value propositions of 11 retailers to find which is the most compelling. It also looked at breadth of selection and promotional activity.

The research firm then juxtaposed the findings with data from its ShopperScape consumer survey. Probably the most confounding consumer finding is that the main reason shoppers go to a specific store is not to find bargains. Rather, Kantar found that trip missions differ by retailer. For example, Macy’s shoppers are most likely to be looking for items to build their wardrobes, while Wal-Mart shoppers want to replace items that are worn or torn. Browsing dominates at Old Navy and off-price retailers. Meanwhile, specific needs send shoppers to J.C. Penney, Target and Kohl’s. The latter is by far the most promotional retailer in the study, followed by Penney’s, Old Navy, Sears and Macy’s.

The survey found that only a small percentage of shoppers are focused on styles and trends when they visit a store. And men disproportionately focus on replacing worn or stained items rather than shop for new looks.

Pricing touches consumers’ psyches as well as wallets, influencing their perception of a brand. Premium pricing promotes a retailer’s credibility. “Target’s limited time collections [such as Go International] are extremely important because they establish the references for value for the work horses such as Mossimo,” said Anne Zybowski, Kantar’s director of retail insights.

At Nordstrom, luxury brands establish expertise through breadth of assortment, helping to reinforce the company’s positioning. Women’s jeans at Nordstrom had a weighted average price of $160, yet there were styles priced as low as $100 and as high as $350. “Nordstrom uses a lot of luxury brands to carve out fashion at the top end of the price range,” Zybowski said.

While shoppers of certain retailers overlap in some cases, consumers of each channel essentially have different needs. Dollar store shoppers are looking for value and quick check out. “Dollar stores are playing to their audience with a much tighter assortment,” said Zybowski. “The [stores] are easy to shop and provide a lot of clarity. Dollar General has one or two jeans stockkeeping units at $10 each. Clarity is critical to help close the deal.”

In terms of where people shop, power centers had the biggest drop, down 2.7 percent from 2010, followed by strip centers with specialty stores, down 0.2 percent, and regional malls, down 0.1 percent. Online shopping sites grew by 1.2 percent and lifestyle centers, 0.9 percent.

“The regional mall base is holding steady with one-quarter of all shoppers going there,” Zybowski said. Online shopping may be getting more competitive, though. One-quarter of online consumers buy only when there’s an offer for free shipping.