Marketers Say Shoppers More Interested In Product Quality Than Low Prices. True or False?

We were looking at the results of a February 2014 "CMO Survey" performed for the American Marketing Association (AMA) by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. The point of the twice-annual CMO Survey, according to its own branding, is "to predict the future of marketing; track marketing excellence; and improve the value of marketing." The survey pool included 4963 top U.S. marketers at Fortune 1000, Forbes Top 200, and top marketers who are AMA Members or Duke University Alumni and Friends. According to the survey summary, 95% of respondents were VP-level or above, and 468 responded.

Among other points, survey respondents indicated that they: 1) were more optimistic about the overall U.S. economy compared to last quarter; and 2) were concerned about: Increased customer purchase volume; increased customer price per unit; that customers would buy more related products and services from their firm; increased ability to retain customers; increased entry of new customers into the market; and increased ability to acquire new customers.

Here are the responses / perceptions comparing customers' priorities in the years 2013 and 2014:


When it came to leading priorities for shoppers, survey responses from marketing professionals indicated that “superior product quality” rather than "low price" was what they believed was most important to their customers.



In the February 2014 study, "Finding a low price" (at 16.8% - or fourth place)  fell from second place in the August 2013 survey (when it was 21%).  

In the 2014 survey, quality, trust and service were listed as the most important priorities; and innovation (at 9.1%) and Brand (at 6.6%) came after "low price".

According to a Cotton Incorporated survey, when apparel shopping on the Internet, clothing quality was the second-biggest concern among US online shoppers, cited by 82% of respondents.  Nearly three-quarters of customers were worried about not being able to try on clothing; and more than six in 10 were concerned about the inability to touch the clothing to check quality.  (Keep in mind that this survey was run by an association with interest in fabrics).  

Other interesting results of the CMO survey:

*Spending on marketing analytics was expected to increase 72%, from 7.1% previously, to 12.2% in the next three years.

*Companies said they measure marketing ROI by:

Manager judgments 27%

Customer surveys 22%

Econometric modeling 18%

Experiments 16%

Don’t measure marketing ROI 15%

Lead generation to sales metrics 2%

*How growth spending (percentage of spending across growth categories) is expected to change:

-11.0% - Market Penetration Strategy

+11.1% - Market Development Strategy

+11.5% - Product/Service Development Strategy

+  15% - Diversification Strategy.

Bottom Line For A Retailer's Bottom Line

As a pricing intelligence professional, I'm concerned about how much weight to place on the responses if they are based on opinion, and if these opinions were based on how each company accumulates, analyzes, and uses its market data.

I'm not saying that everything has to revolve around price sensitivity, but when it comes to the low price vs. superior quality response,  is this what customers' SAID -- or are these the assumptions / educated / analytical guesses of the marketing professionals? What are the different decision-making processes at each firm, the information accumulated on the shopper, and how does each company analyze and interpret this information -- versus what the customer actually believes -- and does?    

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Mauricio Barberi, CMO

About Author

As CMO of Upstream Commerce, Mauricio leads all branding, marketing communications, public & analyst relations, web presence, social media, demand & lead generation and sales enablement programs. He has over 20 years of experience in B2B technology marketing and product development. Previously, Mauricio was SVP of Global Marketing at TradeCard (acquired by GT Nexus), a leading innovator in Cloud-based supply chain management solutions for large retailers and manufacturers; SVP of Worldwide Marketing at CGS, a $200 million software and services provider, where he revitalized the BlueCherry suite of software solutions for the retail & apparel sector; SVP of Marketing at Mobius, a NASDAQ-listed digital archiving and records management company; and VP of Marketing & New Products at C3i, a CRM services firm and Siebel partner. Mauricio earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and a S.B. in Mechanical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
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