We’ve got the latest details on consumer confidence, employment, purchase plans, financial goals as well as what’s hot (or not) in our January 2013 Snapshot Summary. Here are some of the highlights:
- Did the fiscal cliff free fall we nearly experienced lead to more fragile sentiment for the New Year? For January, just over a third (35.3%) is very confident/confident in chances for a strong economy, down two points from last month.
- Though the U.S. unemployment rate remained stagnant at 7.8% for December, consumers maintain slightly higher hopes for the job market compared to thirty days ago. Look for unemployment to remain a hot topic in 2013, though: year-over-year; consumers look less optimistic about the pink slip situation.
- Perhaps some of those holiday gift cards are leading consumers to less practical pastures…this month, while nearly half are poised for pragmatic spending, this figure has declined three points from 30 days ago.
- New Year’s Resolution #1: Fix the Finances…in January, more than a third affirm that they plan to pay down debt and/or decrease overall spending over the next three months, rising from December as well as Jan-12 and Jan-11.
- With the annual average price of gas the highest on record in 2012, it should come as no surprise that drivers haven’t relegated this issue to the back seat…two-thirds are still affected by the pain at the pump. Drivers’ pump price prediction for the end of January is $3.52/gal, just under what was expected at the close of 2012.
- In this month’s retail roundup: In Women’s Clothing, Kohl’s bests Walmart for January, while the big discounter seems to be thisclose to losing the top spot in Shoes as well…stay tuned. Amazon proves it’s the biggest-freight-train-that-could in Electronics, nearly doubling customer share Y-O-Y. And, in an interesting development in Health & Beauty: it appears that 2013 could be a battle between Target and Walgreens…
- Evidence of a holiday hangover? With the gift-giving season in the rearview, consumers take a downward approach to spending compared to December.
- It’s blue skies ahead for vacationers in this month’s BIG Ticket, as 6 month purchase intentions for vacation travel have increased M-O-M and Y-O-Y.
- Not only is Amazon’s the world’s largest online retailer, but it’s the hottest as well…nearly four out of five consumers voted Amazon what’s hot in January. Plus: “Made in America” products, exercise/going to the gym, Super Bowl XLVII, and Walmart.
Our monthly Consumer Snapshot video analysis of the State of the Consumer for 2013 will be released tomorrow, January 16. This special edition includes quick insights on the five things you need to know about consumers in the New Year. To sign up to be a BIGinsight™ VIP and receive our Consumer Snapshot email notification, please click here.
And, to view the Snapshot Summary in its entirely: January 2013.
© 2013, Prosper®
BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development
With a big list of 145 personalities, trends, and current events vying for a position in our Top Ten Hottest Trends for 2012, we thought we’d take a look at some of the other noteworthy findings from the past year:
Golden Girl: The top personality on our list of 145 was one of my four favorite Golden Girls, Betty White (May-12, #18). The nifty nonagenarian bested other celebs – and royals – including mom-to-be Kate Middleton (Dec-12, #31), late-blooming action star Liam Neeson (Oct-12, #40), The Avengers’ Scarlett Johansson (May-12, #44), and Las Vegas favorite Prince Harry (Sept-12, #64).
Making History: The past proves not-so-boring when paired with additive stories from the likes of Pawn Stars, American Pickers, and Hatfields & McCoys, with the History Channel (Jun-12, #12) finishing just shy of the top ten. It appears that portraying “Devil Anse” Hatfield was a boon to Kevin Costner’s stock with consumers; the veteran actor (Jun-12, #65) landed six spots ahead of Magic Mike’s Channing Tatum (Jul-12, #71) #whatistheworldcomingto?
Big at the Box Office: Among last year’s blockbusters, The Amazing Spider-Man (Jul-12, #17) seemed to be the most highly anticipated, though The Dark Knight Rises (Jul-12, #23) and Marvel’s The Avengers (May-12, #26) weren’t too far behind. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Dec-12, #32), Prometheus (Jun-12, #37), Twilight: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 (Nov-12, #51), The Hunger Games (Mar-12, #56), Total Recall (Aug-12, #58), and Skyfall (Nov-12, #59) landed a bit lower on the list.
Fashion Trends to Try: By their very nature of not appealing to most of the male portion of the population, fashion trends tend to fall a bit lower on our list, but here are the top trends consumers were willing to try in 2012: 1. Ankle Boots (Oct-12, #61), 2. Skinny Jeans (Oct-12, #76), 3. High-Low Skirts/Dresses (Aug-12, #80), 4. Jean Jackets (May-12, #82), 5. Colored Denim (Aug-12, #83). Trends to avoid? Hip-enhancing Peplum Tops (Sept-12, #144) and Elmer Fudd-like Trapper Hats (Jan-12, #143).
Not-So-Honorable Mention: At #145 on our list this year, Man Candles (Jun-12) wins the prize as the unhottest (coldest?) trend for 2012. So, it’s confirmed: guys prefer the smell of fresh cookies over mowed grass, lumber, and other icky boy stuff. #noththattheresanythingwrongwiththat
See also: The IT List: Hottest Trends for 2011
© 2013, Prosper®
BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development
- Amid reports of a ho-hum holiday season, you really have to wonder about current consumer mindset. After a strong turnout Black Friday weekend, Hurricane Sandy hit, we witnessed tragedy in Sandy Hook, while those on Capitol Hill literally left us hanging on the fiscal cliff. Retailers continued to give consumers what they really wanted – deals, deals, and more deals – but ultimately it appears that practicality and a focus on needs were at the forefront of consumers’ thoughts as we approached December 25. To top everything off, NBC revealed record ratings for its Christmas Eve showing of It’s a Wonderful Life…coincidence? Perhaps not.
- We at BIGinsight tallied up all of the votes in the lively “Hot or Not?” segment for the whole of 2012 to see which of the 145 trends, personalities, and events really got consumers (Adults 18+) buzzing last year. And while items like holiday shopping online and the New Apple iPad landed high in the rankings, the top 10 list points to consumers focused more on what really matters:
- #10 NFL (Sep-12)*
Football: America’s new favorite pastime? With its top ten ranking, the NFL is certainly giving Major League Baseball (Apr-12, #46) a run for its money. The Giants-Patriots match-up for Super Bowl XLVI (Jan-12, #19) finished within the top 20 this year; however, it was the Packers-Steelers bout in Super Bowl XLV that took top honors in this list back in 2011.
#9 New Apple iPad (Mar-12)
At #9, Apple’s third iteration of its popular iPad was the top tech gadget we polled in 2012, while the more recent releases of the Apple iPad Mini (Nov-12, #25) and Kindle Fire HD (Oct-12, #27) – which sparked the great tablet debate – ranked lower in our list overall.
#8 London Summer Olympic Games (Jul-12)
Fresh off of 2011’s royal wedding, the British invasion of sorts continued for Americans in 2012 with the London Olympic Games. Ranking higher than any other athletes on our lists, swimming superstars Michael Phelps (Aug-12, #21) and Ryan Lochte (Aug-12, #36) proved that they were certainly the pride of the yanks.
#7 Farmers’ Markets (Jul-12)
Perhaps it’s because they offer fresh fare or maybe it’s their “shop small” charm, but at #7, Farmers’ Markets were hit among consumers getting back to the basics this year, though Community Gardens (Aug-12, #81) and Gluten-free Diets (Jul-12, #106) didn’t rank quite so highly.
#6 2012 Presidential Election (Sep-12)
While those of us residing in the swing states couldn’t wait for the endless barrage of phone calls, mailers, and commercials to end, this year’s Presidential Election was certainly very important to all who exercised their right to vote.
#5 Coupons (Jun-12)
Indicative of a consumer group prioritizing budgeting, practicality, and – most importantly – saving money, Coupons scored a top five position in this year’s list. Note to retailers and manufacturers: keep ‘em coming in 2013.
#4 Voting (Nov-12)
You lose your right to complain when you don’t exercise your right to vote…right? Whether their candidate won or lost the election, Americans set precedence on voicing their opinions this year.
#3 “Made in America” Products (Jan-12)
While they may be few and far between, at #3 on our list, “Made in America” Products seem to be what consumers prefer. Or perhaps it’s logical reasoning for boosting our sagging unemployment rate…
#2 Holiday Shopping Online (Dec-12)
Arguably one of the few bright spots for retailers over the past holiday season (gift cards were pretty popular as well), shopping online – whether via a traditional computer/laptop or a mobile device – just clicked with consumers this year. With free shipping offers abound, gift givers were able to skip crowded malls, long checkout lines, and stock-outs in favor of cruising the web for the big bargains, competitive pricing, and compelling customer reviews from the comfort of their couches. However, with Holiday Shopping in Stores (Dec-12) landing at #15, it appears that plenty of Santas still preferred to shop the old fashioned way.
#1 Thanksgiving (Nov-12)
While the Black Friday shopping tradition is increasingly encroaching on the fourth Thursday of November, consumers are seemingly taking a stand on the Thanksgiving holiday, placing it atop our list this year. (Giving Thanks was #2 last year.) It’s a Wonderful Life, right?
* The month/year each item was asked is denoted in parenthesis (MMM-YY).
Do you hear what I hear? That wasn’t eight tiny reindeer up on the housetop recently, but the soft sounds of mouse clicks bringing joy to all of those good little girls and boys, as holiday shopping online topped out “Hot or Not?” segment for December.
Those who love the annual Christmas tradition of fighting for a parking space, scouring the [sale] racks for perfect gifts, and braving the long checkout lines, however, kept holiday shopping in stores alive at #2 in our heat spectrum this month. Buoyed by a large proportion of celebrants under 35, New Year’s Eve Parties clocked in at #3.
And perhaps one of the stories we’ll hear most about in 2013, mom-to-be Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge, bested the results for Princes William and Harry earlier in the fall. She’s certainly shaping up to be the next people’s princess [at least among us Yanks] – particularly among women 35+.
Proof that you can put anything in front of the word “diamond” and find gift-giving success among the female crowd: about two in five women gave brown/chocolate diamonds two thumbs up. Ditto for cashmere. And rounding out fashion, while ugly christmas sweaters registered pretty cool on our heat-o-meter this month, those under 35 found the humor in this new holiday tradition.
Finally, while it appears that consumers certainly intend to celebrate as the ball drops for 2013, don’t expect them to be rockin’ with Ryan Seacrest.
For more on what we found “Hot or Not?” for the month of December, plus other consumer highlights, check out this month’s video briefing:
Happy New Year!
© 2012, Prosper®
BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development
Holiday 2012 has been an interesting selling season. Consumers are cautiously optimistic, planning to spend slightly above what they did in 2011, though the economy / unemployment are still troublesome and the fiscal cliff could still turn out to be the Grinch who stole Christmas. Undoubtedly, though, the shining star of the season has been the resurgence of gift cards.
While gift cards have been perennially touted as the perfect last-minute gift, a look at this year’s insights shows us that gift card buying patterns are shifting. For 2012, consumers aren’t waiting until Christmas Eve for these purchases; they are checking them off their lists much sooner. According to the National Retail Federation, nearly one-third (32.6%) of Black Friday Weekend* shoppers made a gift card purchase, up a whopping 40% from a year ago (23.1%). Further, as of the first week of December, holiday shoppers overall continue to pace ahead of previous years’ buying habits; two out of five (39.2%) have already purchased these stored-cash cards as gifts this season, up 25% from 2011 (31.4%).
So is 2012 shaping up to be the Year of the Gift Card? You betcha. So let’s take a look at three reasons why gift cards are a “must buy” among holiday shoppers this year.
1. We want gift cards – badly.
While they have been atop consumers’ wish lists since 2007, intent to buy gift cards sputtered during the recession as consumers reached for bargain merchandise that wouldn’t quite reveal the total dollar amount paid. This year, though, a record number of consumers are requesting them (59.8%, much higher than the second most request gift – apparel and accessories – at 49.1%), and a record number of shoppers are responding that they are planning to buy them (59.2%, nearly eclipsing the most purchased category – again apparel and accessories – at 59.7%).
Bonus: Buying a gift card spares the giver and receiver from that awkward “here’s the receipt for the return” exchange.
2. Gift cards are still practical gifts.
Gift cards may be tempting this year because they can still be perfectly practical, which is on what the near majority of consumers are remaining focused in this uncertain economy. Recipients can buy what they want or what they need – and either way, it’s money well spent on behalf of the giver and better than a sweater relegated to the back of someone’s closet, no? Shoppers may have a little extra cash in their pockets this year, but if they are going to spend their hard-earned (and hard-saved) pennies, they’ll do it wisely. And remember, a $50 gift card to a discounter might be one man’s (or woman’s) groceries at Target but another’s new home décor from Tar-Zhay.
Bonus: And speaking of sweaters, gift cards are one-size-fits-all, so no worrying about whether or not Aunt Clara really did lose that 10 lbs. this year when debating between a medium and a large [oy].
3. We can buy gift cards “on sale.”
Back in the day (so…five years ago), buying a $50 gift card meant that the purchaser would fork over $50 cash. And these days, with retailers and restaurateurs bending over backward to bring customers through their doors, it seems that incentives to buy gift cards are becoming increasingly creative as well as prevalent. Nowadays, a $100 gift card might come with a $20 bonus to use later (Merry Christmas to me, right?) Or, and this is one of the examples I saw a few times during my Black Friday exploits, a pack of five $20 gift cards might be discounted 20% to $80. Gift card purchasers may also be receiving more indirect incentives to purchase, such as grocery stores offering frequent shopper / fuel rewards or salons giving away coupon books for future services with gift cards purchases.
Bonus: Shop wisely and gift cards purchases can still come with that “you’ll-never-guess-what-I-paid-for-it” cachet, which was the feel good saying among holiday shoppers during the recession.
So are gift cards changing the way we approach shopping for holiday gifts? Certainly. However, when and if gift exchanges turn into gift card exchanges, I’ll bet we’ll see a renaissance of more traditional gift giving.
* “Black Friday Weekend” is defined as Thursday (Thanksgiving), Friday (Black Friday), Saturday, and Sunday.
This month’s Consumer Snapshot is ready! The video below is a concise look at a few trending topics for the month of December, designed to give you a BIG picture view of current consumers.
Here’s a brief overview of what we’re seeing from consumers in December 2012:
- Will the fiscal cliff prove to be the Grinch who stole Christmas? Confidence backs down two points from November.
- While the official unemployment rate registered at 7.7% for November,this doesn’t seem to be quite the hiring miracle consumers were hoping to see this season.
- After the buying bonanza that was Black Friday and Cyber Monday, consumers’ penchant for practicality rises in December.
- It appears that along with trimming the tree this month, consumers will also be trimming their budgets.
- Walmart versus Kohl’s is a toss-up this month in Women’s Clothing.
- Amazon.com climbs to record customer share in Electronics.
- It’s a frosty 90 Day Outlook with spending plans looking downward from Nov-12, Dec-11.
- What’s Hot? Holiday shopping…online.
Be sure to check out the NEW Consumer Snapshot InsightCenter™. When you register for complimentary access to this InsightCenter™, you’ll have the ability to segment an advance preview of our all-star insights on consumer confidence, employment, shopping strategies, and future purchase plans by several key demographic groups. You can also download this month’s text summary (which includes additional insights) as well as the PowerPoint analysis through this InsightCenter™.
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© 2012, Prosper®
BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.