Monday, February 25, 2008

Now, a Recession Forecast

If you read my previous report on Recession News, you may have noticed that there were some opportunities woven into the negative news.

Here's even more opportunities:

While the outlook for the economy has taken a turn for the worse, it's encouraging to note that consumers' fashion sense hasn't taken the same path ... close to the majority (45.1%) reveal that they revel in familiar labels when it comes to clothing, stable with one year ago (45.3%). With masstige offerings (prestige labels available to the masses) increasingly available on store shelves, it should come as no surprise that consumers' liking for labels has grown through the years.

Although consumers in general prefer department stores (27.0%) over discounters (19.0%) and specialty shops (14.2%) as the stores shopped most often for Women's Clothing, the big W proves it's still the diva in this department ... 11.4% contend they shop Wal-Mart most often (down from 11.9% in '07), followed by the 8.1% who shop Kohl's (gaining from 7.6% in '07) ... JC Penney (6.1%), Macy's (5.8%), and Target (2.4%) round out the Top 5.

Wal-Mart's got a more comfortable lead over Kohl's in the Men's section, though the department darling has gained over the past year in this category as well ... the complete Top 5 (February '07 shares in parenthesis): 1. Wal-Mart 13.9% (14.4%), 2. Kohl's 8.5% (7.7%), 3. JC Penney 8.3% (8.8%), 4. Macy's 5.2% (5.0%), 5. Sears 3.3% (3.4%).

In the latest Shoe Wars saga, the big W posts a not-so-big win over Payless for the top shop for footwear ... Wal-Mart's got a slight edge over the discount specialty with 10.6% share shopped most often to 10.4%, respectively. Kohl's (4.6%), JC Penney (3.0%), and DSW (2.9%) round out the Top 5.

Switching gears (literally) ... for Electronics, one in three consumers (32.4%) say their best bet is Best Buy ... Wal-Mart (18.2%), Circuit City (7.8%), Sears (2.8%), and Target (2.2%) round out the Top 5. Price (70.8%) tops the list of reasons to shop a particular store for video games, TVs, stereo systems, and the like, followed by selection (55.6%), location (45.9%), quality (36.5%), and service (26.4%). One in five (20.2%) consumers also value knowledgeable salespeople.

Word of mouth is a powerful form of advertising beyond the direct control of marketers, so which retailers may be benefiting from positive press from consumers? Using the Net Promoter® Score* (NPS), respondents were asked to rate the likelihood that they would recommend the store they currently shop most often for Electronics on a scale from 0 (Not at All Likely) to 10 (Extremely Likely). Among the top ten stores for Electronics, Amazon and Costco received the highest ratings from customers, while discounters Wal-Mart and Amazon are the least likely to be recommended to others:

How likely is it that you would recommend this store for Electronics to a friend or colleague?

(Top 10 Stores for Electronics)

Shop Most Often at:

% Net Promoter Score* (NPS)







Best Buy


Radio Shack


Circuit City




Sam's Club






* Net Promoter, NPS, and Net Promoter Score are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, and Fred Reichheld.

It appears that positive word of mouth has benefited Best Buy over the past year ... According to this month's Consumer Migration Index (CMI), which tracks those who have immigrated to a store (new customers within the past year) against those who have emigrated (left in the past year) and where a positive rating spells net growth to a retailer, finds that Best Buy (with a +6.3 rating) is poised to remain the biggest big box on the block, while Circuit City manages a customer deficit with a -3.7 rating.

Why would consumers be tempted to switch Electronics stores? About one in three (27.8%) cited high prices and 21.4% complained of inconvenient locations ... poor customer service (14.0%), poor selection (11.6%), and competitor advertising (11.4%) followed.

Big boxes continue to hammer the competition in Home Improvement/Hardware ... with the majority shopping either Home Depot (30.0%) or Lowe's (23.7%), the rest the Top 5 get left in the [saw]dust in this category: Wal-Mart (5.5%), Menards (3.6%), ACE Hardware (2.7%).

On the softer side, Wal-Mart continues to maintain a strong lead in the Linens/Bedding/Draperies category ... 17.4% shop the big discounter most often, followed by big box Bed Bath & Beyond (11.8%), JC Penney (6.9%), Linens 'n Things (5.6%), and Target (5.4%).

National presence and EDLP help Wal-Mart maintain its solid lead in the Grocery aisle ... 16.5% shop there most often, followed by Kroger (6.0%), Publix (3.5%), Safeway (2.6%), and Meijer (2.2%).

But does Wal-Mart lead when it comes to consumers shopping for organics? The majority (62.1%) shops regularly or occasionally for organic products, including produce (51.2%), breads (34.5%), cereals (32.8%), dairy products (30.7%), and juices (30.5%). About one in ten (9.6%) of these "greenies" shops Wal-Mart most often for organics, followed Whole Foods (6.6%), Trader Joe's (5.9%), Kroger (4.6%), and Publix (3.0%).

More than one in four (27.6%) take to the aisles of Wal-Mart for Health & Beauty Care ... Walgreens (7.5%), CVS (7.3%), Target (5.5%), and Rite Aid (2.5%) follow not-so-closely behind.

But it's still the druggists who maintain the cure for prescription-medicated colds ... 15.2% shop Walgreens most often for Prescription Drugs, followed by CVS (13.1%). Almost one in ten (9.8%), though, shop Wal-Mart most often, increasing from 7.9% one year ago ... Rite Aid (5.3%) and Target (1.5%) round out the Top 5.

(Source: BIGresearch, 2/08)

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