Economists are wondering whether the new thriftiness on the part of many consumers marks a temporary or permanent change in spending. The shift to generic foods in supermarkets has been well-documented over the past year. But consumers have also indicated that they continue to cut back on other products and services. This continued downshifting means some marketers must adjust their strategies to get consumers spending.
A new Harris Interactive poll shows consumers are scrutinizing their family entertainment budgets. I highlighted this trend in a blog post last month that described how consumers are cutting back on cable TV subscriptions. The cutbacks in this area have spread to printed newspapers (17%) and printed magazines (27%). However, the survey did not ask consumers if they were now accessing this content online instead so the news may not be as bad as it looks.
Here are other cost saving measures that have been implemented in the past 6 months. Th numbers show the percentages of consumers that have cut back:
- Brown bagging lunch – 45%
- Hairdresser/stylist/barber – less frequent visits – 37%
- Reduced dry cleaning use – 21%
- Using mass transit or carpool – 14%
To understand who is cutting back on which services, marketers may find it helpful to review top categories marked for reduced spending by age group. Here’s how some of the figures break out (other than purchasing generic brands which heads the list for all age groups):
- Echo Boomers — Brown bagging lunch instead of going out 46%
- Gen X – Visiting hair stylists less frequently 45%
- Baby Boomers – Cutting down on dry cleaning 26%
- Matures – Switching to refillable water bottle 31%
As the economy recovers, dry cleaners may want to step up their ad campaigns targeting Baby Boomers and hair salons need to think about the best way to convince Gen Xers to come in for a makeover.[Source: Americans Still Cutting Back on Small Things. HarrisInteractive.com. 11 Nov. 2010. Web. 1 Dec. 2010]