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Archive for February, 2012

Generation Gap: Yuck, It’s Tax Season

February 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Ah, the joys of Spring…the birds are chirping, the weather’s getting warmer, and Uncle Sam is banging on your door. With April 15th fast approaching, this is the one time of year I’m thankful I married an accounting nerd!

But enough about me, let’s focus on the different generations…as it turns out, the year you were  born is very much likely to influence your annual approach to signing your life away to the U.S. Treasury being a good, law-abiding citizen:

Silent (born 1945 or earlier)
Boomers (born 1946 – 1964)
Gen X (born 1965 – 1982)
Gen Y (born 1983 – 1993)

While a record number of taxpayers overall intend to use at least some of their refunds for savings, this plan is most prevalent with the youngest generation. Among Gen Y-ers anticipating a refund, 52.2% will to plunk this cash back into their piggy banks, compared to Silents (46.5%) and Gen X (44.7%). Boomers are the least likely generation to save their refunds (38.8%).

Perhaps still under the shadow of a student loan, mortgage, growing family “stuff,” holiday spending [etc., etc., etc.], Gen X-ers are the most likely generation to apply refunds to current debts (49.3%). About two in five (39.5%) Boomers plan to do the same, followed by Gen Y (36.3%) and Silents (27.3%).

Interestingly, it’s not all work and no play for the refunds received by Gen Y. One in five (19.5%) of these youngsters expecting a refund intends to make a major purchase (like a TV, furniture, car, etc.), quadruple the number Silents (5.1%) planning to do the same. Fewer than one in ten (8.3%) Boomers plans to use their refund toward a high-dollar expenditure, while Gen X-ers are nearly as likely as their younger counterparts to splurge (16.3%).

Other tax facts this year:
– Gen X is the generation most likely to file their taxes online. Seven in ten (68.1%) plan to e-file, compared to Boomers (60.2%), Gen Y (55.7%), and Silents (52.0%).
– Two in five Gen X-ers (42.6%) plan to prepare their taxes with computer software, higher than any other generation.
– Nearly a third of Silents (30.6%) plan to use an accountant this year, the top prep method with this generation.
– About one in five (18.8%) of those in Gen Y will have a spouse, friend, or dear-old-dad [or mom] other relative prepare their taxes, double the number of those in other generations planning to do the same.
– Three in four of those in Gen X (76.8%) and Gen Y (72.2%) are anticipating a refund this year, perhaps explaining why about 70% of these lucky ducks were planning to file in February or earlier.

For more information on this data, please contact BIGinsight™.

And to view the original Nation Retail Federation Tax Returns release, click here.

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – FEB-12 (N = 8716, 2/1 – 2/8/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

Shopping Organically: I Wish I Could Be a California Girl

February 27, 2012 Leave a comment

I left my husband and an Ohio snowstorm behind for this view...

About a year ago, I had the opportunity to visit Santa Monica for a few days with my sister. Given that I had never been west of the Grand Canyon – as well as the fact that this meant abandoning Ohio in the middle of January – this trip was quite the treat. Aside from the fantastic shopping, one of the other key memories I retain from our four day excursion was this city’s focus on healthy living. The walking, the biking, the running, the surfing, the oceanside weight lifting, the Pinkberry…and that fantastic Third Street Promenade Farmer’s Market.

When we polled consumers on Organic Products for our February survey, I got to wondering if the impression of the healthier lifestyle I got in Santa Monica was a marketplace reality. So, is any one census region more likely than the others to embrace Organic Products (and the [arguably] greater health benefits that come along with them)?

According to this month’s survey, two in five Adults 18+ (60.0%) indicate that they regularly or occasionally purchase Organic Products. This figure increases to nearly seven in ten adults living out West, the highest among the four Census Regions [see chart]. So appears that there is at least some truth to the rumor that I have been spreading in this very blog. Northeasterners are about average when it comes to buy Organic, Southerners are slightly below, and we Midwesterners are the least likely to shop the big O [“O” as in Organic…of course].

Regularly or Occasionally Buy Organic Products, by Census Regions

The Western states are also home to more consumers who are committed Organic buyers; 14.1% of these residents purchase these products “regularly.” In fact, this figure is 60%+ higher than those in the Midwest who buy “regularly” (8.6%). In the South and Northeast, shoppers are more likely to trend along the nationwide average of about 12%.

Interestingly, the Organic products actually purchased don’t vary too widely among the census regions. Shoppers across the U.S. are most likely to purchase Organic Produce, followed by Dairy Products, Breads, Meat & Poultry, Juices, and Cereals. Though given the more regional nature of the grocery industry, the retailers preferred for Organics do vary across our country’s four quadrants. Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s are shopped most often in the West and Northeast, while Walmart and Kroger are favorites in the Midwest and South:

For more information on this data, please contact BIGinsight™.

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – FEB-12 (N = 8716, 2/1 – 2/8/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

Yep, There’s an App for That Too

February 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Smartphones are big, and tablets are even bigger, primarily due to the countless number of handy dandy apps available for download. From games, planning dinner, tracking the calories in that dinner, to connecting with friends, or even learning How to Drink Your Coffee, there’s bound to be an app for that.

But what apps do consumers really care about when it comes down to it? What about consumers in China, where the mobile market is soaring? Developers take note…it’s all about games and entertainment. For the purposes of this analysis we looked at the types of apps mobile-savvy American and Chinese Consumers ages 18-54 use most often. Despite cultural differences, games, entertainment, and social networking apps are most popular:

With gaming and general entertainment the top two types of apps in both countries, it’s clear that those little Angry Birds have global appeal. Social networking apps are also popular in both countries, with approximately 6 in 10 Chinese and American consumers connecting with friends and family via their mobile devices.

The cultural divide is apparent though once we look past gaming, entertainment, and social media. American consumers are far more likely to download apps related to weather (54.4%), radio (41.7%), and sports (31.0%) than their Chinese counterparts.  Mobile-savvy Chinese Consumers, on the other hand, are much more likely to use work-related apps focused on finance (49.4%), news (52.8%), and general business (51.2%).

Like Apps? We’ve got ‘em too. Visit www.BIGinsight.com/decisions

For more information on this data contact BIGinsight™ or ProsperChina™

Sources: BIGinsight™ Media Behaviors & Influence™ Study – DEC-11 (N=24,578); ProsperChina™ Quarterly Survey – Q4 2011 (N, 16,175)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ ProsperChina™ and Media Behaviors & Influence™ are trademarks of Prosper Business Development Corp.

One in Four McDonald’s Customers Unhappy with Their Health

February 21, 2012 4 comments

Is there a sad-faced clown behind Ronald McDonald’s smiling veneer? According to new analysis by BIGinsight™ of fast food restaurant customers*, McDonald’s patrons are the unhappiest** with their health. Conversely, Chick-fil-A diners reported being the happiest, followed by Subway and Arby’s.

Happy with Health

McDonald’s, though, doesn’t stand alone when it comes to customers at odds with their wellbeing. More than one in five Taco Bell, Wendy’s, and Burger King diners also indicated they were “totally unhappy” or “unhappy” with their health.

Unhappy with Health

While McDonald’s and other burger-and-fries eateries are often lambasted for fueling America’s problems with obesity, this may not just be a case of “you are what you eat.” After all, Chick-fil-A does serve up fried chicken and those tasty waffle fries which I love to dip in mayo. Many sandwich offerings at Arby’s tip the scales at 500+ calories apiece, and at Subway, that $5 footlong will cost you much more in fat and calories when you add bacon, double cheese, and extra mayo [OK, maybe I have a mayo problem.]

The difference between fast food customers who are happier with their health, though, is that away from the drive-thru, these people are more prone to exercise [see chart], count their calories, focus on fat intake, and watch their health in general. So, waffle-fries-with-mayo is probably more like a guilty pleasure than the lunchtime norm to these patrons.

Fast Food Patrons who Exercise Regularly

Need more evidence? About three in ten McDonald’s customers say they don’t do anything with regard to their health (such as exercising; watching calories, carbs, salt or fat intake; buying organic; etc.) Burger King connoisseurs aren’t far behind with this sentiment.

For more information on this data, please contact BIGinsight™.

* McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Subway, Burger King, Taco Bell, Chick-fil-A, Arby’s, and KFC customers were analyzed for this report. “Customers” are defined as those who eat most often at a given fast food restaurant (an unaided, write-in response).

** Respondents were posed with this question: On a scale of 1-5 with 1 being “Totally Unhappy,” and 5 being “Totally Happy,” how would you rate your happiness level with your Health?

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – FEB-12 (N = 8716, 2/1 – 2/8/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

The Changing American Consumer

February 17, 2012 1 comment

Over the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Dr. Marianne Bickle, from the University of South Carolina, on her latest book, The Changing American Consumer. She analyzed ten years’ worth of insights gathered from over a million consumer interviews from BIGinsight™ to paint a picture of how the American consumer is continuously changing.

Consumers have been evolving since the 1960’s, but recent events such as terrorism, financial crises and natural disasters have burned them. A new consumer has emerged from the “fire” with a new identity and a new focus. It’s no longer about the “McMansion” or a Hummer. Consumers are more practical, more budget-conscious and more in control of the marketplace.

In her book, Dr. Bickle not only details these changes, but translates it into relevant information that retailers can use. Topics include consumers’ financial wellbeing, building the American castle, their love affair with automobiles, fast food habits, and how they communicate, to name a few.

We are really excited about this book because Marianne provides an insightful and entertaining look at the American consumer. Her analysis will certainly help companies as they refocus their strategies in an ever-changing market.

Click here for more information: www.ChangingConsumer.com/info

Device Detox: Which could you do without?

February 16, 2012 Leave a comment

These days it’s hard to go anywhere without seeing someone distracted by a smartphone, tablet, MP3 player, or other device. Chances are also high that you, yourself, are addicted to some sort of gadgetry (admittedly I’ve been slightly obsessed with my NookColor lately). But could you live without those devices?

In our recent American Pulse™ survey, we asked 3,839 Americans 18+ what devices they could do without if need be, and the generation* gap in responses is quite wide. In fact, for every “new” device (think hand-held video games, eReaders, tablets, smartphones, etc.) we looked at, device dependency dwindles significantly with age:

So while the majority of Boomers and the Silent Generation said they could do without a Netbook, an MP3 player, or a smartphone, the majority of Gen Y implied they wouldn’t be able to part with these devices. The majority of Gen Xers wouldn’t be able to part ways with their smartphone either.  Further, only half of Gen Y said they could do without their hand-held video games, eReaders, and tablets.

But what about more “traditional” devices (i.e. those that have been around a bit longer)? Interestingly, with the exception of laptops, dependency on more traditional devices increases with age rather than decreases. It seems as though Boomers and Silents are less likely to be able to do without digital cameras, radios, televisions, and basic cell phones than their younger counterparts:

While only a small portion of consumers, regardless of age, could do without these more traditional devices (suggesting all consumers are dependent on some level of technology), Gen X and Gen Y would have less trouble than the Silent Generation giving up these gadgets.

But why is this? Well, perhaps because if they were forced to do without these basic devices, Gen X and Gen Y could replace their digital camera and basic cell phone with their smartphone, their radio with their MP3 player, and their television with streaming video on their tablet.

Or at least that’s what I would do…

*For the purposes of this analysis, generations were defined as follows:

  • Silent (born 1945 or earlier)
  • Boomers (born 1946 – 1964)
  • Gen X (born 1965 – 1982)
  • Gen Y (born 1983 – 1993)

For more information on this data, please contact BIGinsight™

Source: American Pulse™ Survey, January 2012 #2, N=3,839

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ and American Pulse™ are trademarks of Prosper Business Development Corp.

The Help, War Horse, The Artist are Consumers’ Best Picture Picks

February 14, 2012 Leave a comment

If consumers had the vote on OSCAR® night, they’d select The Help for the top prize at the upcoming ceremony. This is all, of course, according to the nearly 9,000 respondents in our February Consumer Survey.  One in four (25.2%) are predicting that the bestseller will translate to Best Picture, while War Horse (17.5%) and The Artist (16.5%) are consumers’ other top contenders.

Although decidedly not the typical “click flick,” support for The Help grows among females. More than a third of ladies 18 to 34 (34.9%) deem it OSCAR®-worthy, while nearly as many women 35+ (32.0%) say the same. Young Men (18 to 34) are calling a much tighter race among the top three flicks: War Horse (15.7%), The Help (15.6%), The Artist (14.9%). Men 35+ are more likely to place odds on War Horse (22.4%) or The Artist (18.6%), rather than The Help (17.7%).

Among the other nominees for Best Picture, consumers place The Tree of Life, Midnight in Paris ­(although an excellent non-Woody-Allen Woody Allen flick), and Hugo as the least likely contenders to win the Academy’s top award.

Interestingly, when asked to select their favorite movies of the Best Picture contenders (as opposed to the movie they predict will win), Moneyball enters the game. The Brad-Pitt-helmed flick scores a home run with Men 18-34 and bats second among guys over 35 (behind War Horse). Two in five women in both the 18-34 and 35+ age brackets say The Help is their favorite…#nocontesthere

Truth be told, I’m rooting for the Red Carpet telecast.

For more information on this data, please contact BIGinsight™.

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – FEB-12 (N = 8716, 2/1 – 2/8/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp

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