A simple offering
Low prices and reduced services
Low-cost offerings are marketed by powerful specialist brands and enjoy a strong presence in three key sectors, but does that mean they are well regarded by Europeans? The answer is a resounding yes. The overall image that just over 8 out of 10 consumers have of such offerings reflects the idea that these companies focus on keeping prices as low as possible, while providing services that are stripped down to the essentials. Ultimately, this is the “dictionary definition” of the low-cost approach. Almost as many associate low-cost offerings with companies that specialise in this approach. More interestingly, a similar number of Europeans associate the concept with the low-cost offerings of “traditional” brands that have chosen to develop products and services specifically for this market, in some cases selling them through specialist subsidiaries (Fig. 12). This result suggests that the sector is not solely the preserve of “pure plays”, but that it is open and constantly evolving, offering opportunities to brands whose roots are elsewhere. From a geographical perspective, respondents from Mediterranean countries are again the most vocal on these issues.
Marketed by powerful specialist brands, low-cost product offerings are viewed in a positive light by 8 out of 10 Europeans.
Clearly identified products and services
To define the low-cost concept more precisely, Europeans identify four key criteria (Fig. 13). First of all, nearly 8 out of 10 say that low-cost products are identifiable by their lack of frills, in terms of packaging, optional extras, etc. This is a view held most firmly by the Italians and Spanish, while the Slovaks and Swedes are the least likely to point to this characteristic.
An almost equal proportion believe that low-cost products are easy to identify, because they are unbranded and feature add-ons that are inexpensive when they are available (73%, 72% and 71%). These are attributes that the Spanish and Italians are the most likely to highlight, along with the French and the British on certain points.
Certain more “qualitative” criteria generate mixed responses in the European countries with the most advanced economies. Indeed, more than 1 in 2 German, French and British respondents believe that low-cost products have a negative impact on the environment or are disappointing once purchased. The majority of German and French consumers also agree that low-cost products have a negative social impact.
Decent value for money
Overall, the qualitative aspects of low-cost products leave Europeans somewhat divided. 57% feel that they offer good value for money (Fig. 14).
The vast majority of people are of this opinion and this is especially true in Hungary, Portugal and Slovakia. However, this is a minority view in Belgium and Bulgaria. Regular buyers of low-cost items are more likely to state that they offer good value for money (66%).