By Daniel Hunter

The latest report from Shoppercentric, an independent agency specialising in shopper research, has been launched today.

Seven out of 10 shoppers have said they don’t care where they buy premium brands as long as they get a good price according to the latest report.

The research, entitled WindowOn…The Brand Challenge, has investigated how ‘premium’ brands are affected by distribution choices i.e. where and how they are sold and whether or not shoppers actually care about where they purchase from.

“It’s critical for premium brands to fully understand how their customers feel about their products presence and availability through different channels,” says Danielle Pinnington, Managing Director at Shoppercentric.

“With the ever strengthening presence of the discounters we know this is an issue that continues to challenge brand managers, so it’s important to find out from shoppers about their perceptions and buying behaviours.

“The findings indicate that price alone clearly does not denote superior quality for shoppers anymore. Great (and proven) quality appears to lie at the heart of an unequivocal premium brand definition — but there is clearly also a role for expressing this, through price, packaging, image or even channel and in-store theatre.

"Care and attention on shelf also mark out a premium brand for many and poor housekeeping, or sloppy merchandising, can go a long way towards undermining a premium brand’s cachet. For many shoppers it appears, it isn’t about where you sell a premium brand, but how you sell it.

"Our evidence suggests that if there is a clear price advantage for shoppers, many will accept what may be an incongruous setting for premium brands. If trust in the brand’s integrity is such that quality is assured, any reservations about the retail setting can be swiftly overcome in order to make a decent saving. Of course, there will always be some die-hards for whom the location cue over-rides everything else and for these shoppers a premium brand presence in a discount retailer still gives pause for thought.

"In terms of premium brands being on promotion, it’s perhaps no surprise that shoppers still love to bag a bargain - indeed price reductions offer access to these products for many shoppers who would otherwise not buy them. However it’s important to get the difficult balance of discount/promotions right. To maintain a truly premium position, promotional activity should offer an occasional chance to indulge — or a welcome reward for loyalty — rather than a more continuous expectation which can see perception of ’premium‘ erode.

"Brand owners need to acknowledge that times have changed. Shoppers expect bargains and are being more considered in their purchasing. The retail landscape has shifted: although still relatively small, the discounters are growing and more and more shoppers are adding them to their repertoire. So, considering these changes, brand values may also need to flex to make sure the brand stays in touch with its showroom and shopper. Vanity is simply too expensive to maintain in the current climate.”

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