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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

An Amazonian Sized Challenge: The Smartphone and Tablet Price Check Era

February 9, 2012 1 comment

It used to be that in order for a consumer to do a price comparison it required some sort of inconvenience for them. Before the Internet, they had to drive across town or have their newspaper ads handy. Once the Internet came along, they could compare before they came in store but once they were there the options were limited.

In the smartphone and tablet era, not only can consumers compare prices between retailers while standing in a store, they can actually purchase the product from a different retailer while standing in another store.

In a survey we conducted for the National Retail Federation this past holiday season, 25.3% of Adults 18+ shopped for an item in a store and then decided to buy that same item online from a different retailer. The ability to find a cheaper price online was the overwhelming top reason for choosing the online retailer.

The convenience of shopping online was the second most chosen reason for going to a different retailer online and the item being out of stock or unavailable in the store came in third.

Another interesting insight from the January survey was about the Amazon Price Check Application. Of those who have a smartphone, 15.9% used the Amazon Price Check Application this past holiday season. I recently downloaded this app to my iPhone and tried it out. You can scan a barcode, take a picture of an item, type in the product name, or “Say It” and the app will search to find that product and give you the Amazon.com price. I took a picture of my office desk phone and it found it in seconds.

The smartphone and tablet era presents an interesting challenge for retailers that doesn’t look to be going away any time soon. New technology is always just around the corner helping to make consumers’ lives easier. What could possibly be next?

Check out the Prosper Mobile InsightCenter to find the latest smartphone and tablet consumer trends.

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – JAN-12 (N = 9317, 1/4 – 1/11/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development

FYU: Prescription Drugs

February 8, 2012 Leave a comment

As we reported in our most recent Executive Briefing, according to our Consumer Migration Index, Walgreens seems to be having a customer flow problem…as in, the drugstore’s Prescription Drug customers are flowing out its doors and to the competition. It’s time for this retail giant’s check-up, courtesy of our Retail Ratings Reports.

For Your Understanding this month, we’re going to look primarily at the top competitors in this category: Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart. As you can see in the chart below, while Walgreens and CVS have been keeping close company for most of the past year, it’s evident that in Q4 2011 the two retailers began to tangle for the top spot in this category:

Prescription Drugs - Store Shopped Most Often

For additional insight on Walgreens and its competitors, we can turn to our latest Retail Ratings Report. Just on the first few pages of this handy guide*, we can see that:

-  CVS fills more prescriptions for consumers in the lucrative $50,000+ and $75,000+ income brackets, while Walgreens is the top choice among those earning under $50,000.
-  There’s an occupational divide among the top three competitors. Walmart is the first pick among Labor/Blue Collar Workers, CVS is tops with White Collar/Service Workers, while Retirees and Disabled Workers head to Walgreens most often.
-  CVS bests Walgreens among customers in the 45 to 64 year old age bracket.  The two competitors are more evenly matched both among older (65+) and younger (18-44) consumers.
-  Walgreens maintains its surest footing in the Midwest and West, while CVS (and Rite Aid) rule the Northeast. CVS and Walgreens are neck-and-neck in the South (while Walmart a very close third here).

But let’s look a bit deeper with the Consumer Equity Index™ (CEI). The CEI – available exclusively within the Retail Ratings Reports – is a year-over-year index showing growth or decline of Consumer Preference Share (the % we collect each month for the store shopped most often). Here’s a key:

CEI = 100 (flat)
CEI = 105 (5% growth)
CEI = 95 (5% decline)

Our latest CEI ratings for Prescription Drugs show that Walgreens (+ others) continue to slip in a segment in which CVS shines:  those earning $50,000+/year. Here, CVS has experienced a 5% growth while Walgreens is suffering from a near 10% decline.

Prescription Drugs CEI - $50,000+ Incomes

And, if you were to analyze the CEI ratings for those earning under $50,000/year (read: Walgreens’ core customer base), you would find that Walgreens’ share is remaining stagnant, but that CVS is increasingly curing customers here as well.

Now you understand: While Walgreens remains a top competitor in the Prescription Drugs category, three weaknesses are evident with just a quick glance at the latest Retail Ratings Report:

1.) Walgreens is dropping share among upper income shoppers.
2.) Walgreens is experiencing a flat/no-growth situation among its core shoppers.
3.) Walgreens is facing tougher competition in the form of CVS.

How’s that for a diagnosis?

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

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey, JAN-11 – JAN-12

* Retail Ratings Reports are available monthly for the following categories: Women’s Clothing, Men’s Clothing, Children’s Clothing, Shoes, Linens/Bedding/Draperies, Electronics, Hardware, Children’s Toys, Sporting Goods, Groceries, Health & Beauty Care, Prescription Drugs.

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

Valentine’s Day 2012: Do Macy’s Shoppers Have the Biggest Hearts?

February 6, 2012 1 comment

While it looks like consumers in general are feeling the love this Valentine’s Day, new analysis by BIGinsight shows that the hearts seem to grow fondest among Macy’s shoppers. For this exclusive report, we analyzed the Valentine’s Day plans among shoppers at five major U.S. retailers: JC Penney, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Target, and Walmart (non-grocery).*

While about three in five consumers (59.4%) overall are planning to celebrate February 14 this year, this number rises among Macy’s shoppers (68.2%). Hearts are also beating a little faster among Target (64.3%) and JC Penney (63.4%) buyers, while Kohl’s and Walmart are closer to the national average.

What really sets Macy’s celebrants apart from the rest is the amount they plan to spend on the ones they love. While the average consumer is allocating $126.03 towards gifts for significant others, children, friends, pets, and others, Macy’s shoppers are allotting about 30% more: $164.67. Every other shopper group we looked at for this report is planning to spend below average:

Valentine's Day 2012: Combined Average Spending Plans

So why are Macy’s shoppers’ spending plans so robust compared to the rest of the retailers we reviewed? We found a few interesting insights here:

- Macy’s shoppers simply have more available to spend. The average yearly income of Macy’s shoppers exceeds the take home pay of the other shopper groups we looked at for this report.
- Macy’s shoppers are wooing and less likely “I doing.” Macy’s (and Target) shoppers were the groups most likely to check the “Single, never married” box in the marital status portion of our survey, while JC Penney and Kohl’s shoppers were the most probable to be hitched. Come to think of it, I did receive more flowers, candy, and – most importantly – jewelry before I was married…
- Sale shopping is less important to the Macy’s customers. In January, nearly one in five Macy’s shoppers reported that sales aren’t important to them when buying clothing, compared to just 9% of Kohl’s shoppers. BTW, Kohl’s customers are the most likely of these five groups to only buy clothing when on sale, probably accounting for at least part of why these deal-oriented shoppers have the most frugal Valentine’s Day budget. (Kohl’s Cash, anyone?)
- Macy’s shoppers are more optimistic on matters of the economy. Nearly two in five (37.3%) Macy’s customers were very confident or confident in chances for a strong economy in January, 20%+ higher than general population (30.4%). Confidence among Kohl’s, JC Penney, and Walmart shoppers indexed below average, and as we all [should] know, low confidence does not spur spending.

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

And, click to view the original National Retail Federation press release: Americans to Pull Out All the Stops This Valentine’s Day.

* “Shoppers” are defined as respondents who indicated that they shopped a retailer most often for at least one major merchandise category (including Women’s, Men’s, or Children’s Apparel, Shoes, Electronics, Heath & Beauty Care, etc.), unless otherwise noted. Shopper groups analyzed in this report are not mutually exclusive.

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – JAN-12 (N = 9317, 1/4 – 1/11/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp

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