With Australians making lifestyle changes in response to the recession, Datamonitor’s Recession and Recovery research has shown that in the beauty sector it is actually women who are more likely to shop around for better deals.
The downturn has prompted the majority of Australians to make some sort of sacrifice in their everyday spending. One of these changes has been a growing willingness to switch brands, or even stores, in order to save money, a sentiment most aligned with female consumers.
When asked in July 2009, about one-third of Australian men claimed they are now buying cheaper brands, while over half of Australian women are doing the same.
Around one-third of Australian women report that they are shopping around for the best price, which is almost double the proportion of men who do the same.
“The downturn has paved the way for a new breed of ‘butterfly consumers’, who are easily distracted by different offerings, whether it is new product variants, improved store formats or more engaging shopping experiences,” explained Katrina Diamonon, Datamonitor analyst.
“In the downturn, it is the prospect of lower prices and greater value that is making them flutter.”
Unfortunately for supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths, the proliferation of their private label brands has not been enough to hold onto value-minded females. One in five Australian women reported that they are starting to shop at discounters, and are doing so either ‘most of the time’ or ‘all of the time’.
This mentality serves as welcome news for Costco, whose timely arrival onto Australian shores earlier this month has already attracted a legion of value-seeking supporters.
“The popularity of the retail giant is indicative of Australians’ propensity to actively seek greater value amid the downturn. And since women are the primary grocery shoppers, it is not surprising that they are more fervent in their intentions to shop at discount stores,” explained Diamonon.
The personal care category has traditionally been deemed ‘recession resistant’, as most people can afford it and the intense importance they attach to ‘keeping up appearances’ (nearly half of Australians believe physically attractive people have greater opportunities in life, according to Datamonitor research).
However, Australian women may be purchasing the same, or even a greater quantity of beauty products amid the downturn, but they are indulging in less expensive products. In fact, women are three times more likely than men to replace their usual brand of skincare with a new but cheaper alternative, and twice as likely to do the same with cosmetics purchases.
“Women’s desire to treat themselves need not conflict with their pursuit of value,” commented Diamonon.
“Australian women are quickly realising that they can indeed indulge in beauty products while getting a great deal. However, their responses indicate that growing value consciousness can come at the expense of brand loyalty.”
Indeed, nearly one-quarter of Australian women are ditching their favourite hairdressers and salons, and opting instead for cheaper at-home solutions such as hair-dyes and waxing kits. Ninety-three per cent of men on the other hand, are sticking with their usual grooming services.
“The downturn has not diminished women’s brand loyalty, but rather enhanced their shopping IQ and encouraged them to become more ‘considered’ shoppers. They will certainly stick with their favourite brands if the perceived benefits justify the cost, but if they don’t deliver, expect these butterflies to take flight,” concluded Diamonon.