1The 20th century was marked by so many memorable events, that finding one single static field would be a rather challenging task. The intensification of world and regional trade brought about changes in the heart of markets and triggered the appearance of such terms as shopping and professional shopper. Wikipedia defines shopping as the „examining of goods or services from retailers with the intent to purchase at that time. Shopping is an activity of selection and/or purchase. In some contexts it is considered a leisure activity as well as an economic one.”
In our country, the term of professional shopper is far from being established, although for a great part of consumers, the process of buying necessary products is slowly becoming a pleasant way to spend their time. Where are our consumers headed in their hope to find the needed product or service, while enjoying the vast choice, the window shopping and the process of buying?
According to data collected during the Magenta National Screening, performed by Magenta Consulting in 24 urban centers of the country, on a sample of 1400 respondents (error margin is not higher than ±3%), 44% of consumers in Moldova prefer to shop at commercial centers, rather than in markets.
Although every city has its own local commercial centers, the leaders of the Chisinau market are well known among the residents of the entire country. Interestingly enough, the new Mall Dova managed to rank highest in the unassisted consumer awareness (respondents have written the names that they know, without a multiple choice option) and quickly became the most visited commercial center. At the same time, it is important to mention that in the awareness top, the difference between MallDova and the next centert, Jumbo, is less than 1 percentage point, therefore both these centers have gathered 29% of mentions. Gemeni is on the third palce in this top, being marked by one fifth of respondents.
Fig.1 Unassisted awareness of commercial centers (%), N=1049
Since this research evaluated the unassisted awareness of commercial centers, it was obvious that a big part of respondents do not make a difference between a supermarket and a commercial center, and often use these terms interchangeably.
When asked what commercial centers they visit more often, 16% of respondents mentioned that they go to Unic (second after Mall Dova). The third place is shared by Gemeni and Elat, and the fourth place (at a distance of one percentage point) is occupied by Jumbo (14%).
Fig. 2. Frequency of visits to commercial centers, (%), N=609
What influences our consumers’ choice so much? Why is the commercial center Jumbo visited so rarely, even though it placed on the second place in the awareness top? We all know that the factors influencing our consumers’ behaviours are far more diverse than advertisements and prices. Even in the age of information tehcnologies, our consumers rely heavily on peer recommendations and on previous positive experience in chosing where to shop. For example, Unic (known in the past as the Central Department Store) and Gemeni (known as the soviet brand „Детский Мир”) are well known by local consumers as stores with a tradition coming from the old days, and this factor is important for the Moldovan people.
The prices of products sold in commercial centers are equally important for the consumer as the tradition. The study showed that concumers perceive the prices in MallDova as high (42%), and accessible only during sales (24%). On the second place in the „expensive top” is the center Elat: 39% consider its prices high and 11% believe that they are only accessible during sales. It is important to mention that the answers to these questions are purely subjective, and do not necessarily reflect the real price level in these centers.
Fig.3. Perceived level of prices in commercial centers (%)
Many believe (27%) that the most diverse range of products and services is available in MallDova, while METRO Cash&Carry places second (18%). Although the format of Cash&Carry stores is very different from commercial centers, consumers perceive them the same, as a place where one can find almost everything that is necessary.
Fig. 4. Full Service commercial centers, from consumers’ viewpoint (%), N=271
Today we can say for sure that the fact that consumers are moving towards commercial centers instead of markets is an irreversible process, and every year the competition is growing. But consumers want to see a bigger variety of high-quality products an dservices, instead of larget advertisement billboards in commercial centers.