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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Getting to know you

Recent MIDA survey profiles the Puerto Rico consumer by generation and ‘customer journey’


Researchers ask consumers in a video to describe Puerto Rico in one word. The responses range from “terrible, disastrous and catastrophic” to “surviving, onwards and beautiful.”

“This is how your consumers describe Puerto Rico. We present this to you today because we need to understand, listen, learn, and overall we must promote change, with the data presented to you by the consumer survey it is your job as executives to change the perception people have of our island,” Diana Rodríguez of Lighthouse Strategies told an audience of some 2,000 members of the Puerto Rico Chamber of Food Industry, Marketing and Distribution (MIDA by its Spanish acronym) at its annual conference and food expo on Thursday. “These people come into your stores and buy your brands; it’s your job to promote a mindset that exemplifies change.”

At this year’s conference, held at the Puerto Rico Convention Center San Juan and titled “Living the Consumer Shopping Experience,” MIDA presented its latest consumer survey, which integrated the results of more than 1,350 interviews from people all over the island, and included a demographic of people from Generation Z, millennials, Generation X and baby boomers.

“We will always aspire to gather more and more information and aspire to get to know the consumer better, because they hold this industry together, and not just that, [they tell us] how we can help the industry better -- it’s techniques and communication skills,” Rodríguez, the research director of the consumer survey who opened the show with the aforementioned video, told the STAR a short while later.

After her introduction, Rodríguez went on to describe the various generations of consumers the researchers studied in the event and their differences.

The researcher noted that all four generations impact the industry in their own way. Generation Z was described as a digital generation that tends to use all tools available to them and is especially averse to wasting time. Millennials were described by Rodríguez as a mixed generation that cares a lot about health and is quite diverse and extremely hard-working. Generation X was described as a relaxed generation that just wants to have things go smoothly since they feel their time as workers is ending; however, the negative perception of the island has not let them relax. The baby boomers were described as follows: even though they are the oldest of the generations, they are not just sitting down watching TV all day; a lot of them work and sometimes even full time, and sometimes they even include their grandchildren and children in their budget. Their biggest concern is what they will leave their children and grandchildren after they are gone. Even if a lot of their children and grandchildren are busy building their lives, they do worry about them.

Rodríguez noted that understanding the four generations was essential to understanding their individual needs as consumers, which will determine the direction companies should take when approaching consumers. An interesting fact described by the study is that 56% of shoppers consider themselves someone who makes a heavy balance between quality and price of items regardless of the economic crisis regarding inflation and the island itself; this was well executed throughout the entire study.

Rodríguez also explained the four main steps of the “Customer Journey.” The first step is exploration, which begins in the home, and involves motivation and budget. The next step is preparation, which involves the different processes regarding how the consumer is getting ready to shop. The third step is the journey to the store, which involves the location of the stores and the stores they prefer. Last is arrival at the store.

After Rodríguez presented the four parts of the consumer journey to the audience, subsequent presenters expanded up each step referring to the survey.

Mario Rodríguez from V2A Consulting and Herbert Torres from Econo Supermarkets discussed the first step, exploration. Some of the data the businessmen showcased involved expenses versus income. The most highlighted stage in this section of results was that the average consumer is operating with a more than $1,000 deficit when it comes to their expenses. Because of this deficit, consumers buy less, make a list, and sometimes must leave items behind.

“If the energy bill is raised then there’s no choice but to pay it, and so you have less money for food because you have to pay the bill instead of [consuming],” Torres said.

The presenters also stated that understanding the budget of consumers gives companies a more in-depth look at their lives and how they should approach pricings and marketing strategies. They also pointed out that while every generation has a different budget and different spending habits, the average consumer spends about $453 a month on groceries. They also stated that consumers are spending the same amount of money every year, but for fewer items.

The next step, preparation, was presented by Sara Ramírez from Plaza Provision and Yadmin Vargas from Selectos Supermarkets. The data in this section showed that 64% of the people who were interviewed checked the shopping circular provided by the store, with a minimum of two different stores for their shopping lists. Of the people who used the circular, 43% of them used both digital and physical versions. Another interesting fact in this section was that even though social media is more widespread and used, TV has a larger influence on what people buy, according to 33% of those interviewed.

The third step, the journey to the store, was presented by Luis A. Defendini from the dairy producer Tres Monjitas and Cynthia Irizarry of Irizarry & Associates company. They stated that 54% of those interviewed in the study visit a store because of where it is located, while the other 48% visit the location based on its price range.

The last step, arrival at the store, was presented by Jennifer Garland from Walmart. She detailed that 64% of the interviewed people responded that they always purchase meat and 60% stated they always buy rice, while 42% of them stated they regularly buy eggs. In addition 48% of the respondents said they have pets, and therefore pet items are important to them.

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