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Indian consumers seek more deals with rising prices, retailers reworking discount strategies

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Indian consumers are seeking more deals and are even willing to hop around stores to get the best bargain as they try to offset a squeeze on incomes from rising prices . Between January-March this year, over 39 per cent of consumers were actively looking for better deals while shopping as compared to 30 per cent a year ago, according to market research firm Nielsen. The study was conducted in eight major metros and three towns having a population of over three lakh each.

“There is a greater deal seeking nature in consumers due to two primary reasons – inflation as well as accessibility that make consumers aware of the various deals being offered by retailers,” said Dipita Chakraborty, executive director for Retail and Shopper Practice at Nielsen.

This comes at a time when most consumer product companies are increasing sticker prices across categories to negate margin pressure. Just last month, Colgate undertook 2-7 per cent price increases across its key brands while Dabur took similar price hikes in its juices and oral care portfolio. Both Emami and Bajaj Corp too raised prices of hair oil by 4-9 per cent while Britannia took 15-20 per cent price hike across some of its brands like Bourbon.

Several branded apparel makers too have been hiking prices after the Budget for fiscal 2011-12 proposed a mandatory levy of 10 per cent on branded apparel.

And while shoppers feel the pinch, most retailers that were resilient to such economic factors last year are now trying hard to keep prices low. No wonder, retailers are now reworking on their discount strategies to attract more consumers. In the last few weeks, Future group, the country’s largest retailer has promoted oral care products, home cleaning kits and tea kits by bundling them together to drive consumption through incentives.

“Every product category involves interplay of many product categories. For instance, tea involves tea, biscuits, sugar, snacks and crockery. This multi-category consumption lens comes naturally to us as a retailer and we are using the category inter-play by bundling products and offering promotions on them,” said Devendra Chawla, head of private brands at Future group.

The Nielsen study also says that over 37 per cent consumers visited modern trade stores every month as compared to 30 per cent last year. And retailers are using the oldest trick in the operations to attract footfalls -loyalty cards. “We are putting use buying patterns and consumer insights from our loyal customers’ database in our schemes and promotions.

Instead of giving freebies, we are now offering points so that customers can shop within our stores,” said Vinay Bhatia, senior VP at Shoppers Stop, which gets 73 per cent of its total sales from its over two million loyalty card holders.

Hypermarket chain Max Hypermarkets is trying to leverage ‘convenience’. “We have focused on increasing loyalty by offering convenience aspects such as multiple cash counters to ensure fewer queues and relevance of product range which differs 5-6 per cent across catchments,” said Vineet Singh, MD Max Hypermarkets India that runs the Spar chain.

Source : Economic Times

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