Consumers still concerned over state of economy, turn to Internet for deals

Despite end of Great Recession, cautious spending continues

CHICAGO — Concerns over the health of the economy are far from over, as evidenced by a SymphonyIRI Group survey released Wednesday that found consumers are taking even more steps to save money due to their ongoing financial concerns, including turning to the Internet in search of the best deals.

List making and coupon clipping still are top of mind for consumers as they struggle with high gas prices and question their job stability. Additionally, the survey uncovered that consumers are turning to the Internet to find the best deals, SymphonyIRI said.

"Consumers are feeling bumps in the road as the country continues to strive toward an economic recovery,” said Susan Viamari, editor of Times & Trends at SymphonyIRI. "Americans are still leery about their job stability and are finding it necessary to save even more money as they face uncertain times. To keep abreast of ever-changing consumer mindsets, SymphonyIRI will continue to track shopper behavior trends, as well as research new and emerging trends, such as the digital media trends we are closely examining in our new 'Point of View' [report].”

Statistics from SymphonyIRI's MarketPulse survey for second quarter 2011, which builds on the findings from first quarter 2011, reinforced the fact that even though the Great Recession officially ended a full year ago, consumers are continuing to spend cautiously due to feelings of uncertainty about their economic futures. Findings included:

  • 1-in-3 consumers expected their financial position would deteriorate in the coming year, and one-half of consumers anticipated no change in their finances during this time frame;

  • More than half of consumers expected the cost of daily living to rise, including food (70%), utilities (62%) and gasoline (58%); and

  • 18% thought their job stability would deteriorate in the coming year.

From the Internet and blogs to in-store digital touchscreens and smartphones, consumers are leveraging digital media to find the best deals. And 8% of consumers are using the Internet to make lists, SymphonyIRI found.

“Since there is an ‘app’ for everything in today’s world, [consumer packaged goods] retailers and manufacturers must stay ahead of the digital curve to meet shoppers’ needs,” said Srishti Gupta, EVP emerging media solutions at SymphonyIRI. “Our new point of view, ‘Digital Dimension,’ explores the latest digital media trends and provides important insights for CPG marketers looking to capitalize on digital opportunities, as understanding adoption and usage nuances is critical to maximizing marketing opportunity in this space.”

“For instance, mid- to upper-income households (earning $55,000 to $99,000 annually) use the Internet more than most other consumer segments for various day-to-day activities, yet the wealthiest shoppers (earning more than $100,000 annually) are slightly behind this segment,” Gupta added. “The mid- to upper-income segment has higher broadband, as well a larger number of devices, such as laptops and smartphones, at their fingertips. The wealthiest shoppers, a segment which skews a bit older, has not yet embraced digital coupons with the same fervor, so their usage is not quite as high.”

The free "Point of View" report, “Digital Dimension: Consumers Embrace Digital Media with Diverse Approaches,” can be downloaded here.

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