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Archive for August, 2012

Fresh Consumer Insights via Video – August 2012

For those of you who may have missed our latest Executive Briefing, we just wanted to let you know that you still have a chance to get up-to-date on the latest consumer trends via our Video Briefing!

That’s right…in just 5 minutes, we’ll educate you on what you need to know about confidence, consumer spending, unemployment, and retail. Simply click play below to view our latest insights from our Monthly Consumer Survey:

Interested in becoming a BIG VIP? Please click here to sign up for access to a host of complimentary insights, from our briefings and webinars to press releases and more.

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

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – AUG-12 (N = 9426, 8/1 – 8/7/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

Random Acts of Violence: Not-So-Random Concerns

Many Americans across the nation have been shaken up by recent violent attacks in Colorado at a movie theater, in Wisconsin at a Sikh temple and now New York, just outside the Empire State Building. Are citizens of these states more concerned about violence than the rest of the nation?

More than 1 in 3 (35.1%) Adults 18+ say they are somewhat or very concerned to visit public places, as of early August (shortly after the Dark Knight shooting in Colorado). Residents of New York (36.1%) and Wisconsin (35.8%) show slightly higher concern, while those in Colorado (24.7%) are not as worried. Ohioans (36.5%) also show elevated concern for visiting public places. As a native Ohioan, I must admit I get a little nervous when visiting Cleveland—perhaps it has something to do with the viral tourism videos

So what types of places have Americans thinking twice? Where might they avoid if possible? Despite TSA attempts to make airports safer, 2 in 5 Americans are still concerned about random acts of violence at these travel hubs. Shopping malls (33.1%) were the next highest location of concern—something retailers should really be aware of heading into the all-important holiday season. Santa’s little helpers might appreciate some added security this year.

Places of worship are understandably a big concern in Wisconsin (39.0%) while citizens of Colorado (34.9%) and those in Ohio (33.6%) show elevated apprehension for violence in schools. Whether past or present, vicious attacks such as those occurring in Oak Creek, Wisconsin; Columbine, Colorado; and Kent State University in Ohio still impact the perception of safety in the United States.

Overall, those in New York are the most concerned about random acts of violence in public places—7 in 10 admit to concerns about violence in at least one location.

Ohioans are less concerned—37.8% say they are not worried about violence in any public places. Perhaps this state isn’t such a bad place to visit!

Source: American Pulse™ Survey, August 2012, N=3,281

© 2012, Prosper®

Consumers: Employment Won’t Improve for Another 2+ Years

While Back-to-School spending buoyed this year and the outlook for Holiday 2012 just *might* be cautiously optimistic, the unemployment rate still seems to be the sticking point between consumers and that “recovery” word.

Those of us “in the know” are aware that the official U.S. unemployment rate remained a discouraging 8.3% for July (not accounting for the underemployed or discouraged workers, of course). What might a spouse, sibling, or parent tell you about the state of the job market though? Your dentist? Your child’s teacher? John [or Jane] Q. Public? If you aren’t tracking this rate on a continuous basis, you would probably be more apt to respond that or the unemployment rate is “high” or the employment situation is “bad.”

In fact, when we asked the more than 3,000 consumers in our latest American Pulse™ survey what they believed to be the current U.S. unemployment rate, respondents’ answers averaged 11.6%. While most consumers (54.4%) felt that the rate was somewhere between 8% and 10%, nearly one out of five (a whopping 18.9%) estimates that the rate is higher than 15%, which is more in line with the Bureau of Statistics’ much less publicized U-6 rate of unemployment.

When do you think the current employment situation will start to improve?So we’ve established that consumers think the unemployment rate is “high,” but how “bad” do they perceive the employment situation to be? According to our latest insights for August, nearly three out of ten (27.7%) believe it will take more than 2 years for the job market to improve. Fewer place bets on 7-12 months (17.3%), 13-18 months (15.8%), or 19 months to 2 years (16.3%), while just 7.8% optimistically assert that the employment situation has already improved.

Among the generations, Gen Y is the group most likely to view the outlook for employment with rose colored glasses; in fact, more than one in ten born between 1983 and 1993 is anticipating improvement in the job market within the next three months. [Holiday hiring season anyone?] The Boomer (born 1946-1964) and Silent (born before 1946) generations maintain a more long-term stance on improving employment, with about a third in each group looking beyond two years from now. Gen X (born 1965 – 1982) is more likely to follow the opinions of the general public.

When do you think the current employment situation will start to improve?

Now while these insights are interesting, why are they important? Employment remains THE key issue when it comes to discussing the slow growth and recovery of the U.S. economy. Whether on a micro (i.e. personal job security) or macro (i.e. overall economic health) level, doubt in the employment environment breeds uncertain and hesitant spending patterns among consumers. If they fear the pink slips, they’ll snap their wallets shut. If they think they’ll go another year or two or three without a raise or promotion, they’ll think twice about upgrading their homes or cars or about taking a vacation. It’s the retailers, marketers, and advertisers who are attuned to consumers’ concerns that will be better positioned to react and adapt to these realities as the economy sputters toward a long-awaited recovery.

This post originally appeared on Forbes.com as a contribution to the Prosper Now blog.

Does your coffee cup denote how you’ll vote in the Presidential Election?

When you are in need of java fix, are you more likely to head to Starbucks or McDonald’s? Did you ever think that the drive-through you pull up to may indicate which presidential candidate has your vote?

There’s a lot of mud-slinging in the political arena these days—battle lines have been drawn and it seems like every other TV commercial is a negative campaign ad. So we like to lighten the mood here at BIGinsight™ every now and again and look at some unique voter segments to see how they plan to vote in the presidential election. First up were the coffeehouse titans.

I should start by saying that Independent Voters will likely decide the election. The political atmosphere is anything but bi-partisan and Republicans and Democrats appear to be behind their candidate. But Independent Voters who plan to vote in November are split. Our analysis shows that over a quarter of these voters are undecided and therein lies the opportunity for the presidential hopefuls.

So where, oh where (sorry—couldn’t help myself) can these voters be? Our “Coffee Cup Politics” analysis for August takes a look at where they go most often for their coffee and which candidate coffee drinkers from each coffee shop tend to prefer. Check it out…

  • Likely Independent Voters who still haven’t made a decision are most likely to head to Starbucks.
    • 13.9% saying that’s where they purchase coffee most often.
  • McDonald’s comes in at number two among this segment.
    • 9.3% go there most for coffee.
  • Likely Independent Voters who go to Starbucks most often seem more inclined to cast a ballot for Obama.
  • Those who prefer McDonald’s coffee are more likely to vote for Romney.
  • It’s interesting to note that over a quarter of each voter group remains on the fence and historically unsure votes tend to end up in the challenger’s tally.

For further insight, take a listen as our Consumer Insights Director, Pam Goodfellow, discusses the analysis on one of our favorite local morning radio programs: http://ow.ly/dbpWf

Source: BIGinsight.com
2012, Prosper®

Surprising Insights: American Pulse

As some of you may know, we’ve been releasing these really handy tools called InsightCenters, perfect for serving up answers in an intuitive, interactive and illustrative way. You can find insights on a wide range of topics – mobile device ownership, Hispanic consumers, new vehicle purchasers, government unemployment stats, and even the economy of China—all at the click of a mouse or the tap of a touch screen!

At the moment I have a domestic focus, and have been exploring our American Pulse InsightCenter, which takes a look at how Americans feel about the upcoming election, the economy, technology, and much more!

In just a few minutes, I was able to easily gather these fun facts:

  • Members of Generation Y are more likely than older generations to say they are addicted to the Internet and Facebook.
    • More Boomers than younger Americans say they are addicted to TV.
  • Men are more likely than women to be happier with the work life, and both genders’ happiness levels in the workplace are higher in 2012 than they were in 2011.
    • Women, however, are more likely than men to be happy or totally happy with their love lives.
  • In July, Hispanics were more likely than Whites and Blacks to thoroughly enjoy their lives rather than worrying about making money.
  • Members of Generation Y are more confident that the government’s economic policies will help lower unemployment, and their confidence is growing.
  • Neither Presidential candidate has a positive Net Promoter Score* among Likely Voters.
    • Obama, however, receives a higher score among Democrats than Romney does among Republicans.

Take a look for yourself and see what you can learn about the pulse of America: the people! And for the people, did I mention access to this InsightCenter is totally free? :)  (Just click the image to access the online version or download to your Android tablet!)

Source: BIGinsight.com

© 2012, Prosper®

*About the Net Promoter Score (NPS): Respondents were asked to rate, on a scale from 0 (Not at all likely) to 10 (Extremely likely), the probability they would recommend each presidential candidate to a friend or colleague. 10 and 9 responses indicate Promoters, 8 and 7 responses are Passives and 0 through 6 are Detractors. NPS is calculated by subtracting the percentage of Detractors from the percentage of Promoters.

Net Promoter, NPS and Net Promoter Score are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, and Fred Reichheld

The Showroom Showdown: Best Buy vs. Amazon

August 21, 2012 1 comment

Once upon a time, Best Buy was a magnet for shoppers. We came, we saw, and we unflinchingly bought. Fast forward to 2012, and Best Buy is seemingly no longer a “best bet” among consumers. The big box made news recently, not because of stellar sales performance, but because of its store closings, layoffs, and failure to evolve with changing consumer needs. Best Buy’s growing reputation as Amazon.com’s showroom isn’t doing much to help the matter, either.

For this post, you’ve got ringside seats to the bout pitting the big box veteran against the online “underdog.” We’ll go three rounds with BIG insights to see who might have more long-term stamina.

Round One: Customer Share

It’s interesting to note that – despite its troubles – Best Buy still remains a top-of-mind reference among electronics shoppers. About a third of the 8,000+ consumers we talk to each month indicate they shop most often at Best Buy for electronics (an unaided, write-in response), leading Walmart (with about 20%) as well as Amazon.com (just under 10%). Further, our 10+ years of insights show us that Best Buy’s lead as the store shopped most often hasn’t been challenged – ever.

Amazon didn’t start gaining traction in this category until late 2009 (the same year which marked Circuit City’s demise) and has been steadily been increasing ever since. However, with Best Buy’s current customer share quadruple that of Amazon, the online giant will have to vastly pick up its growth pace to catch up with Best Buy within the foreseeable future.

Winner: Best Buy. There’s still equity in the Best Buy nameplate – and that’s a high percentage of customers who still consider the big box their prime destination for electronics.

Round Two: Cross-Shopping

Let’s discuss the meaning of the “shop most often” phrase we use to gauge customer share; the term “shop” can mean “browse” and/or “buy.” So while it appears that Best Buy may be the store shoppers head to or think of first for electronics, the retailer’s recent performance suggests that it isn’t the only option (i.e. they are, in fact, shopping around). And in the realm of high-dollar electronics, who can blame them in this economy?

We collected some interesting cross-shopping insights in July that highlight Best Buy’s current predicament:

- Among Best Buy’s most loyal electronics shoppers, 51.6% admit to surfing Amazon (for any category) within the past 90 days. Fewer (40.6%) perused the offerings at Best Buy during this same time period. Ouch.

- On the flip side, among Amazon’s most loyal electronics shoppers, a whopping 92.4% had visited the site within the past three months, while just 16.8% had been curious enough to enter a Best Buy. Double ouch.

Which of the following retailers have you shopped within the past 90 days?

Best Buy’s electronics shoppers were more prone to visiting Amazon within the past 90 days than the big box itself.

Is there any loyalty towards retailers in an uncertain economy? As evidenced by our cross-shopping data, Best Buy customers were more likely to head to Amazon than they were to the big box itself in the past 90 days. Granted, they could have been surfing Amazon for books, toothbrushes, or even apparel, but how hard would it have been to check out the electronics offerings? Just a few mouse clicks.

Winner: Amazon. While the online retailer’s customer share for electronics is relatively minor, Amazon’s vast product offerings are a major plus with shoppers.

Round Three: Price Comparisons and Showrooming

One of the biggest retail buzzwords today is “showrooming”: the art of demoing merchandise in a physical store and using mobile devices to locate the retailer with the best price. It’s the most modern way to compare prices [for now].

When Best Buy began reporting problems, pundits began pointing the finger at showrooming (and that handy little Price Check by Amazon app). But are Best Buy’s customers guilty of using the big box’s sales floor for this purpose?

Also in July, we found that among Best Buy electronics shoppers carrying mobile devices, 67.1% regularly or occasionally comparison shop via their mobile devices – and about two in five (38.3%) use Amazon’s Price Check app specifically (regularly or occasionally). However, these figures aren’t out of line with what we recorded for Amazon’s mobile-wielding electronics shoppers: 70.4% regularly or occasionally compare prices using their smartphones or tablets and a higher percentage (45.4%) utilize the Price Check app. Further, these percentages are nearly identical to mobile owners in general (67.2% compare prices with their devices; 40.3% report using the Price Check by Amazon app).

While showrooming may be contributing to the big box’s woes, it’s evident that this isn’t a “problem” unique to Best Buy in particular. Showrooming just “is” – it’s another smart shopping strategy being adopted by today’s well-informed consumers and an inevitable trend born from the mobile movement.

Winner: Amazon. The online retail threw a hard punch at more retailers than just Best Buy when it introduced the Price Check app. And the intel it receives from Price Check participants ensures that Amazon’s sticker prices remain low – making non-price competition a “must” for other retailers.

Best Buy seems to be missing the benefit of its so-called showroom status: the retailer has the initial opportunity to make a direct connection with customers and close the sale before shoppers begin scanning SKUs. Instead of placing blame on Amazon and the showrooming trend, perhaps these are the real questions we should be asking: Why has Best Buy failed to capitalize on the customers entering their stores? And, why haven’t shoppers felt compelled to buy from Best Buy once inside the store? Where is Best Buy’s value proposition to its customers?

With pricing transparency between retailers only likely to increase as we become a more technologically-savvy society, Best Buy’s near knockout should serve as a warning. Retailers will have to look to their customers – creating value that will fulfill customers’ needs, fit their budgets, and leave them feeling good about their purchases – and wanting to return for more.

This post originally appeared on Forbes.com as a contribution to the Prosper Now blog.

Does Exercise Incite Positive Thoughts about the Economy?

The positive effects that regular exercise can have on our health and stress levels are well-documented; I personally enjoy the solitary time on my elliptical each morning reading Twilight The Changing American Consumer on my Kindle. But can breaking a sweat help boost economic confidence?

According to our August Consumer survey, 35.2% of those who regularly hit the gym [or pound the pavement?] are “confident” or “very confident” in chances for a strong economy, indexing slightly above the overall average (34.0%). Among those who prefer a more sedentary lifestyle, confidence was subpar (33.3%).

Exercisers are also prone to more positive thinking regarding the employment outlook. Nearly one in five (19.5%) is calling for “fewer” layoffs over the next six months, higher than the overall average (16.9%) as well as their couch potato counterparts (15.4%). Exercisers aren’t as likely to be sweating increasing layoffs, either; about one in four (26.7%) is expecting “more” layoffs, indexing below adults in general (27.6%) as well as non-exercisers (28.1%).

But while exercisers are making more positive predictions for the economy, they are adopting more realistic, financially conservative lifestyles. This month, half (50.7%) of those who work out regularly say they have become more practical in their purchasing, 28% higher than those preferring less active lifestyles (39.4%). Focus on necessities, sticking to budgets, and spending more time with the family are priorities to a higher proportion of those tending toward toning compared to those who, well, are not.

Exercisers are also making sure that their finances are in shape as well; nearly two in five (38.8%) maintains plans to decrease overall spending in the next three months, much higher than those leaning toward lounging (28.4%). We see nearly the same disparities when comparing plans to pay down debt and increase savings:

Also noteworthy: interest in exercising began accelerating when the economy hit the skids. In August 2007, fewer than one in three (30.5%) reported that they were working out regularly, while the economy prospered with a 43.9% confidence rate. Fast forward to 2012, and more are exercising (36.5%) while confidence has dropped to 34.0%:

Is the economic downturn/exercise upturn a just coincidence? Have we been turning to exercise to help alleviate some of the macro-environmental stress brought about by the Great Recession?

Or given the information deluge we’ve experienced via the online, mobile, and social media, have we just become more aware of the benefits of building up a sweat? More motivated?

Or with the growing number of baby boomers entering retirement, is a larger proportion of the population trying to stave off aging?

Or in this economy, is going for a run simply cheaper than dinner-and-a-movie?

Maybe we’ve just become tired of asking, “Do I look fat in this?”

Check out our other blogs on the topic of health and exercise:

One in Four McDonald’s Customers Unhappy with Their Health

Two-Thirds of Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods Shoppers Express Health Happiness

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – AUG-12 (N = 9426, 8/1 – 8/7/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

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