Now that employers have started hiring again, albeit slowly, consumers may decide to spend more money. If consumers don’t begin spending, the economic growth rate may slow or stall. The Harris Poll has been tracking consumer spending patterns on specific product categories since 2009 and the most recent data issued by the company suggests that caution is still the order of the day, indicating marketers may have to shift their strategies to encourage spending.
In the past 6 months, the number of consumers who purchased more generic products, used mass transit, and cancelled landline phone service have dropped. While these changes could suggest an improving sentiment, consumers are still looking for ways to bring their household spending down. More consumers indicated that they are going to the hair stylist less often and have cancelled one or more magazine subscriptions.
The survey also revealed behavioral differences by age group. For example, members of Generation X are more likely (65%) than all other groups to have purchased more generic brands. Gen Xers also have the highest rate of stretching out visits to hair stylists and barbers (41%). And the rate of brown-bagging for lunch for Generation X stands at 51%. They are surpassed only by Echo Boomers at 52% in this category. This finding might indicate that Generation X, the group more likely than other to have children living at home, is still looking for ways to save money. Interestingly, consumers over age 66 were the most likely, 42%, to cancel magazine subscriptions. And the youngest surveyed consumers, ages 18–34, are finding other ways to cut back on recurring expenses. This group was more likely than others to cancel pay TV services (26%), stop buying morning coffee (25%), and cancelled landline phone service (24%).
The results of this survey show that consumers of all age groups are still cutting some expenses from their monthly budgets. Marketers need to find new ways to promote the value of their services to wary consumers. In particular, hair stylists and magazine publishers appear to be most at risk of declining revenues. Look for these operators to launch new ad campaigns to increase their revenue.[Source: No Evidence of Economic Uptick in Reported Spending and Saving Behavior. HarrisInteractive.com. 15 Mar. 2011. Web. 5 Apr. 2011]