Working Papers

Point-of-Purchase Behavior and Price Perceptions of Supermarket Shoppers

Jan 1, 1986

Subject
Consumers’ use of price information.

Type of Report
Results of in-store field study.

Objective
To investigate consumers’ knowledge and use of price information at the supermarket point of purchase (POP).

Method
Intercepted 800 shoppers in four stores of a supermarket chain immediately after they had selected one of four target products (margarine, coffee, toothpaste, cold cereal). Observations and interviews were used to assess the time spent at the POP, the number of brands/sizes physically inspected, accuracy of price recall and recall of price specials, comparison shopping, and reasons for price checking.

Findings

  • Little search is undertaken at the POP. Shoppers took an average of 12 seconds from when they approached the display to when they placed the item in their cart. They physically inspected a mean of 1.2 brands and 1.1 sizes. Less than 22% of shoppers checked the price of other brands of the product. Cereal shoppers spent the most time at the POP, probably because the display area is larger.
  • Of the 58% of shoppers who checked the price of their chosen brand, 32% did so to decide what brand to buy, 21% did so out of habit, 21% to decide how much to buy, and 9% whether to buy.
  • Forty-seven percent of shoppers could give the correct price of their selection (56% were within +5% of the actual price), 32% gave an incorrect price, and 21% would not/could not estimate the price. This price accuracy at the POP is higher than that reported in earlier studies away from the POP.
  • Just under half of the shoppers who selected an on-special item knew that it was on special, and only 13% of these correctly knew the amount of the reduction.
  • Shoppers at the only store that had on-item pricing were significantly more accurate in their price estimates than the other shoppers, but this result does not appear to be due directly to their better use of price information at the POP. Shoppers at a down-scale store were more apt to be wrong in their price estimates.

Target Audience/Applicability
Consumer goods manufacturers, retailers, and academics

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