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What’s the mindset of America’s shoppers?

November 11, 2011

As the economy fluctuates and there’s no clear direction, US shoppers are now developing and enhancing their coping and survival strategies.

IRI has done a tremendous amount of work to understand how consumers are adapting to the economic landscape and how their behavior is being transformed.

They recently published a report entitled “The Downturn Shopper- Buckled in for a Wild and Crazy Ride”, which examines the current state of the shopper in these post-recession times. What they’ve found is that consumers aren’t going back to their old ways primarily because they lack confidence in their economic futures.

Some of the behaviors IRI identified make for interesting reading.

–       55% of shoppers state they eat out less often

–       33% share more products with others in the household than they used to

–       55% are creating simpler and less expensive meals

–       34% are eating more family meals together

–       28% are eating smaller portions

–       19% are using the internet for basic health diagnosis

–       35% are buying less over the counter medicines

–       44% are using coupons to make up their shopping lists

–       31% are making larger shopping trips at the beginning of the month when cash is available

–       40% are giving up their favorite brands to save money

–       48% are trying new brands priced below their regular brands

Obviously, not everyone is equal and IRI applied a segmentation analysis to the US Shopper and identified six segments that reflect the different attitudes and shopping strategies- it’s a little more complex than the “Haves and Have Nots”.

–       Optimists (14%)- Believe things are going to get much better

–       Carefree (19%)- Don’t seem to care about the situation and carrying on as normal

–       Start-Ups (11%)- Feel the future is going to stay the same

–       Savvy Shoppers (14%) Believe the future is going to be the same as the current situation and know how to cope

–       Downtrodden (18%)- Most believe their economic situation is going to get a lot worse

–       Cautious and Worried (24%) A significant proportion believe their economic situation will get worse

The data from IRI suggests that many shoppers still haven’t got the recession out of their minds and are very much living like they are still in one. It remains to be seen what exactly will trigger a return to the behaviors of old, or whether these new coping strategies will be around for a while.

Brands need to have a clearer understanding of the mindset of their shoppers and to identify potential opportunities with them.

While value maybe key to everyone, it will have specific nuances to certain segments and there are clearly many new ways to match these new and different need sets that the segments display.

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