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First Look: January 2013

January 15, 2013 Leave a comment

Snapshot Summary January 2013Eager to know where consumers stand as we begin the New Year?

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.

Source: BIGinsight.com

© 2013, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development

New December Insights in a Snap!

December 13, 2012 Leave a comment

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™.

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.

Source: BIGinsight.com

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

New October Insights in a Snap!

October 16, 2012 1 comment

This month’s Consumer Snapshot is ready! The video below is a concise look at a few trending topics for the month of October, designed to give you a BIG picture view of current consumers.

Here’s a brief overview of what we’re seeing from consumers in October 2012:

- Beware the fiscal cliff: confidence declines from September
- Employment outlook improves, but still just 1 in 5 expect “fewer” layoffs over the next 6 months
- Practicality when purchasing remains intact
- Increasing savings reaches highest October reading in 6 years
- Walmart wins in Apparel, Shoes
- Toys R Us, Amazon.com see YOY gains in Children’s Toys
- Holiday ’12 is shaping up to be a bit brighter, with the 90 Day Outlook improving for all categories
- DSLR buying trend? Plans to purchase digital cameras highest in 2 years
- Meet Little Miss “Not” Hot for October: Here Comes Honey Boo Boo

 

And NEW this month is the Consumer Snapshot InsightCenter™. When you register for complimentary access to this new 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™.

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.

Source: BIGinsight.com

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

Mobile Users Speak: Digital Cross-Shopping In Physical Stores

September 6, 2012 Leave a comment

Researching products on a smartphone or tablet is quite popular among Mobile Users – 39.6% say they regularly conduct mobile research while 48.5% occasionally do so. Two in three (66.5%) also regularly or occasionally purchase products using their mobile devices. It’s no big surprise that mobile cross-shopping (searching the web on a mobile device to compare offerings and prices while browsing a physical store) is a growing trend among shoppers equipped with smartphones and tablets.

More than half (59.1%) say they have compared prices on a mobile device while shopping in a physical store. 1 in 3 still purchased from the same physical store (34.5%) but just as many chose to purchase from a different retailer (33.8%). The next most popular mobile cross-shopping activities include purchasing from another retailer’s website, either using a smartphone or tablet (25.9%) or logging on using a laptop after leaving the store (22.3%). Those Mobile Users who shopped Best Buy or Amazon.com in the past 90 days are more likely to engage in these activities:

*For this analysis, Shoppers are defined as those who said they shopped at a particular retailer in the past 90 days.

It’s interesting to see the vast majority of those who’ve recently visited Best Buy have cross-shopped without leaving a store, further promoting Best Buy’s growing reputation as Amazon.com’s showroom. These savvy mobile users are looking for the best buy, whether it’s at their current shopping location, next door or online.

Further, mobile devices are great shopping companions. 39.0% say they’ve used a smartphone or tablet to check out product reviews, 35.7% have scanned a QR code for more info, 23.8% have “checked in” for a discount and 17.7% requested a price match—all while shopping in a physical store! Amazon and Best Buy customers are even more prone to these thrifty digital habits:

Over a third (36.8%) of Best Buy shoppers say they’ve requested a price match via mobile while shopping…perhaps they’ve informed a Geek of a better buy found through the Price Check app from Amazon? Best Buy could be in trouble if Amazon’s customers continue to find the site so favorable.

Source: Prosper Mobile Insights™, Mobile Survey (AUG-12), N=328

© 2012, Prosper®

Amazon #1 In Customer Service, But Will This Lead To Sustainable Loyalty?

September 5, 2012 Leave a comment
Recently our friends over at the National Retail Federation directed us to Amazon.com, where Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos had once again posted a public letter to customers, this time stating:

I’m happy to report that Amazon has been rated #1 in the National Retail Federation Customers’ Choice Awards…

Why were we excited to see this? BIGinsight compiled the list of Customers’ Choice Award recipients for the NRF Foundation, which was unveiled at their BIG Show earlier this year. These awards recognize the retailers that provide the “best” customer service and were nominated through an unaided, write-in question by (who else?) consumers.

2011 Customers’ Choice Awards: Top Ten (source: NRF Foundation)

  1. Amazon.com
  2. L.L. Bean
  3. Zappos.com
  4. Overstock.com
  5. QVC
  6. Kohl’s
  7. Lands’ End
  8. JC Penney
  9. Newegg.com
  10. Nordstrom

Customer service in the conventional sense has generally implied face-to-face communication: greeting a customer; providing him/her with product information, demonstrations, additional options, or size assistance; suggesting add-ons or complementary products; and finally, completing the sale. Historically, the best opportunity to cultivate great customer relationships is within an environment where personal interaction between the retailer (i.e. sales associates) and customers is at its peak: a physical store.

So does it surprise you that a traditional brick-and-mortar retailer didn’t top this year’s list? Further, just three of the retailers (Kohl’s, JC Penney, Nordstrom) who graced the top 10 aren’t primarily entrenched in e-commerce, catalog selling, or home shopping.

So how does Amazon rank #1 in customer service?

The digital age has forced the evolution of customer service. In a world where emails and texts have replaced more intimate forms of communication, where shoppers can complete a sale 24/7 via online transactions, and where showrooming is linking the physical shopping experience with the virtual, the modern definition of customer service seems to have downgraded the importance of direct human interaction. And, let’s not forget that customer service in the traditional sense has also been crippled in recent years by an economy fostering a trend toward part-time, minimum wage, less “invested” sales associates.

As the world’s largest online retailer, Amazon has been a driving force behind the e-commerce movement and changing standards for customer service excellence. Some of the words consumers used in their reasons to nominate Amazon for Customers’ Choice included “efficient,” “fast,” “reliable,” “no hassle,” “easy,” and of course, “free shipping.” Note that these terms differ vastly from those who nominated Nordstrom, THE purveyor of traditional customer service: “experience,” “friendly,” “personal,” and “knowledgeable.” [More specific reasons can be found here for each retailer included in the top 10.]

Consider too the e-commerce services that online shoppers (a growing group) value. While the majority indicates that toll free “live” customer service very important or important, this figure has declined nearly 10% from 2007. With customers increasingly gravitating to such services as low prices, free shipping, and easy to use websites over the past few years, it’s obvious that verbal communication isn’t a service prerequisite when it comes to buying online.

Important/Very Important Services when Shopping Online

But are Amazon’s low prices, free shipping, and efficient turnaround enough to capture sustainable customer loyalty? After all, the troubled economy did create a new consumer – one who shops around, is value-oriented, and may find it increasingly difficult to create ties with one retailer over another.

One of the most fascinating parts of the retail industry is that we are always looking toward for what’s “next” – hot new trends, advancements in technology, gotta-have products, or evolving practices that change the way we do business. Retailers like Best Buy and JC Penney have already announced efforts to ramp up one-on-one interaction to drive customers back to their stores, looking ahead to perhaps a renaissance of traditional customer service.

With its history as a game-changer, though, Amazon just might remain what’s “next” for the foreseeable future.

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

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.

A Mom Blog

Wife, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, godmother, and sometimes just “mom”…we maintain a lot of connections to all of these special women in our lives, so what better way to show our appreciation for all of the mothers than a day just for her?

Not even this year’s escalating gas prices have put the brake on spending for Mother’s Day, which is the third highest-spending holiday that we track for the National Retail Federation (behind Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa and Back-to-School). And for this special analysis, we’re taking a look at Mother’s Day spending by specific store shoppers* at several major U.S. retailers.

Consistent with our Valentine’s Day findings, Macy’s shoppers are planning to spend the most on mom this year at $222.51, much higher than the overall average ($152.52). Costco shoppers index higher as well (at $164.96), while Target ($154.53) and JC Penney ($156.30) shoppers are expected spend consistently with the typical U.S. shopper. Walmart, Sam’s Club, Amazon.com, and Kohl’s shoppers are aiming for the biggest bargains for their bucks this year:

Mother's Day 2012: Combined Average Spending Plans
Interestingly – but perhaps not-so-surprisingly – Amazon.com customers are the most likely to head online for Mother’s Day gifts this year. Forty-seven percent of these shoppers are hitting the Internet just for mom this year (their top destination), which vastly eclipses the 25.6% planning to take to the web among the general population. And for more on the Mother’s Day online shopper, see the Shop.org Blog: Key dates and tips to target the online Mother’s Day shopper in 2012.

Planning to Purchase Mother's Day Gifts ONLINE
What else can we expect this Mother’s Day?

- While Walmart shoppers are the most likely to head to discounters (34.7%) among the retailers we analyzed, department stores (38.4%) and specialty shops (35.2%) will be top destinations for loyalists to the big W as well.

- Specialty stores will be the most popular gifting locales for Target, Kohl’s, JC Penney, Macy’s, Costco, and Sam’s Club customers, though Target, JC Penney, and Macy’s shoppers are nearly as likely to head to department stores, too.

- Among those armed with tablets, Macy’s and Target shoppers are the most likely to use this device to assist with finding the perfect gift for mom. Three out of five (61.7%) Macy’s customers will use their tablets to research or buy products, redeem coupons, or look up retailer information, while 56.8% of Target shoppers say the same. Overall, 51.2% of shoppers who own tablets will use these devices to shop for mom.

* “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 for this report (Walmart, Kohl’s, JC Penney, Target, Macy’s, Costco, Sam’s Club, and Amazon.com) are not mutually exclusive.

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – APR-12 (N = 8724, 4/3 – 4/10/12)

© 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

Customers’ Choice – A Look Back

November 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Sorry…we aren’t about to reveal the 2011 Customers’ Choice Winners, but we have been hard at work on this year’s list in recent weeks.  So I thought that now would be a great time to take a look back at previous winners.

For the past several years, we’ve been pleased to provide the research behind the Customers’ Choice Awards to the NRF Foundation…research which (of course) comes straight from the thoughts of more than 9,000 consumers in our Consumer Intentions & Actions® survey.

Zappos.com took home top honors in 2011, moving up from #3 in previous years. Perennial favorites for customer service include Amazon.com, L.L.Bean, and Overstock.com.

Below are the NRF Foundation/American Express Customers’ Choice Award Winners for the past two years:

2010

  1. Zappos.com
  2. Amazon.com
  3. L.L.Bean
  4. Overstock.com
  5. Lands’ End
  6. JC Penney
  7. Kohl’s
  8. QVC
  9. Nordstrom
  10. Newegg

2009

  1. L.L.Bean
  2. Overstock.com
  3. Zappos.com
  4. Amazon.com
  5. QVC
  6. Coldwater Creek
  7. HSN
  8. Lands’ End
  9. JCPenney
  10. (tie) Kohl’s, Nordstrom

To read more about the 2010 results as well as methodology, click here.

Stay tuned for the 2011 results, which will be announced at the NRF 101st Annual Convention & EXPO.

©2011, Prosper®

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