Quality or price: What makes a product 'premium'?

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What makes a product or service ‘premium’? Is it quality, or the amount for which it was bought that defines it as superior?

According to Shoppercentric’s survey of 1,000 UK consumers, 76% said product quality was the key defining feature of a premium brand compared to just 51% who believes ‘price’ was a the determining factor.

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

Products sold at more upmarket store were also shown to be more highly valued with 16% saying that premium goods can only be bought from high-end shops. However, seven in 10 shoppers said they don’t care where they buy premium brands as long as they get a good price.

The study also examined whether, in light of the economic downturn, premium is really something that matters to shoppers. The research showed that six in 10 shoppers claimed to hate the snobbery around premium brands and nearly 20% strongly agreed with this statement.

In terms of discount and whether this devalues a premium product, 59% shoppers felt that premium brands who never offer discounts are in fact out of touch with their customers and 37% agreed that the types of brands who don’t discount, don’t care about

Over half (59%) said shoppers believe that if they saw a premium brand on reduced price, it would make them question whether the full price was too high whilst 61% of shoppers said they only buy premium brands when they are on offer.

However, a whopping 74% are on the hunt for a premium product at a discounted rate and love finding a luxury brand at half the cost.

Pinnington added: “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.”

Mark Haviland, MD of Rakuten LinkShare, said of the findings: “For years now, premium brands have worked hard to effectively position discounting and offers within a broader brand growth strategy but now, with consumer spending squeezed, customers are researching prices and looking to publisher sites before brand websites in order to find the best deal.

 It’s crucial to appear on sites that echo your own brand values, not only so that you are able to access the right target audience, but so that you can match your brand image wherever you appear on the web. Brand image is everything and premium retailers don’t need to compromise, they just have to get the balance right.”

About Natalie Steers

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