Retailers are turning out more economy lines to meet demand from cash-strapped shoppers, new research has suggested.

A study by Mintel has found that product launches in the economy range overtook premium product launches in the UK in 2012. Of around 12,500 products launched during the year, 9% were categorised as economy items, against 7% categorised as premium.

In 2008, by comparison, premium lines accounted for 9% of food and drink launches, versus economy at 2%.

“The UK economy has struggled to see market recovery and consumer disposable income has remained under pressure,” said Mintel’s director of innovation and insight David Jago. “Investment in NPD across economy lines has reflected this, increasing steadily since 2010, outstripping the number of new product launches featuring premium claims.”

As a result, retailers are improving the quality of their packaging for budget lines, said Mintel’s senior global packaging analyst Benjamin Punchard – who cited Tesco’s move away from its distinctive blue-and-white stripes design: “They recognise that this has been a barrier to purchase for the nouveau poor, ie. those middle-class consumers who increasingly find themselves on an ever tighter budget.”

In a separate survey, Mintel found that bargain hunting has become “ingrained” in British shoppers, with 72% of consumers saying they like the thrill of seizing a bargain.

Fifty-five percent of the 2,000 shoppers questioned said they only buy certain brands or products when on promotion, the survey indicated.

The research comes as kitchenware retailer Lakeland reported an increase in sales of bread makers, mincers and burger makers, along with double-digit growth in pastry and pie-making products. The company said the horsemeat scandal had led to more people cooking from scratch than ever before.

Topics