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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.

The Holiday ’12 State of the Consumer

October 11, 2012 Leave a comment

This week, the National Retail Federation announced their 2012 holiday forecast, predicting that sales will rise 4.1% over 2011 to $586.1 billion. The sales growth is expected to be slightly higher than the 10-year average holiday sales increase (3.5%), though pacing below last year’s growth (5.6%). With holiday shoppers gearing up for spending, let’s take a look at the “state of the consumer” as we head into this all-important selling season for retailers:

Confidence is UP, but Feelings are Volatile. In the BIGinsight September monthly survey of more than 9,000 consumers, 38% indicated that they were very confident or confident in chances for a strong economy. This was a high reading for 2012 and a vast improvement over the September 2011’s 23%, when consumers were still reeling from the debt crisis. Confidence is riding a four-point upswing from August to September, but don’t look for this indicator to continue to improve at this pace – 2012 has been a rollercoaster ride for sentiment and continued fluctuation is expected headed into Q4.

Consumer Confidence

The outcome of the “fiscal cliff” drama on Capitol Hill remains big question mark for the sustainability of confidence – as well as holiday sales. Should we fall off that precipice – and realize an average 2013 tax bill increase of $3500 – holiday budgets are bound to shrink. Adding to the precarious position of the economy? Our continuously weak job market. And the upcoming Presidential election also adds to the uncertainty.

Frugality is a Fixture in Consumer Finances. Along with the relatively robust increase in consumer confidence in September, we also witnessed similar increases in those focused on practical purchasing and buying just the necessities. In fact, both indicators are in line with what we saw a year ago, when confidence was just 23%. So yes, Virginia, despite the more positive outlook for the economy, consumers are still being very cautious with what they spend – even as we look forward to the holiday shopping season.

Expect holiday shoppers to stick to budgets, avoid impulse buys, continue smart shopping strategies, such as couponing, sales/promotions, and comparison shopping, as gift-buying commences. Frugality continues to be the name of the game with consumers because they know the economy isn’t “fixed.” Paying down debt and reducing spending remain fiscal priorities headed into the final three months of 2012, while plans to increase savings reached a six-year September high last month, so it appears that consumers may be preparing for holiday shopping as well as those everyday unknowns.

Pricing uncertainty in key areas, like grocery, gas, and apparel, continues to be of concern with consumers. An increasing number of shoppers are relying on their credit cards more compared to September 2011 when purchasing such staples – so we are still seeing signs of struggling consumers. (i.e. Holiday ’12 won’t herald a season of “recovery.”)

However, if it can be avoided, shoppers won’t make this Christmas on credit. Year over year, fewer are paying off just the minimum monthly balance on their cards, while we’ve seen a slight rise in those carrying $0 average monthly balances. The past four years have been a tough road for consumers, but they do appear to be focusing on not falling back into the lax spending/savings patterns that got them into a mess back in 2008.

Consumers Know They Have the Upper Hand with Retailers. Can we call this retail transparency? The rising popularity of mobile devices has taken much of the mystery out of shopping for customers holding a smartphone or tablet. They can compare prices, check availability, and even click “buy” from virtually wherever they are located, and shoppers will work all angles – online, instore, mobile, social media, coupon sites, direct mail, email, and ad circulars – to make sure that their holiday spending remains on budget. It’ll be a spending game that consumers want to win.

However, we know that all retailers can’t compete on low price alone [I’m looking at you, Best Buy.] Great customer service and personal rapport with shoppers will be key in driving traffic to retailers who aren’t low-price providers. Product selection, availability, and brand assortment – something department stores having really honed in on in the past few years – will also serve to turn shoppers’ heads this season. “Cheap is chic” is SO 2008; today’s shoppers want value and are willing to pay a little more for quality – as long as they can use a coupon.

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

New September Insights in a Snap!

September 18, 2012 1 comment

This month, we’ve introduced the Consumer Snapshot – a concise look at a few trending topics for the month of September, designed to give you a BIG picture view of current consumers.

In this month’s video analysis, we’re examining consumer confidence, practical spending and personal finances, and the pain at the pump. And, we wrap things up with a peek at Holiday 2012 spending plans.

This month’s video is below, but you can also click over to our full version for a short text summary as well as the link to this month’s complimentary PowerPoint analysis.

 

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.

To view the latest BIG Consumer Snapshot in its entirely: September 2012.

Source: BIGinsight.com

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp

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.

The New Normal, According to Consumers

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

As Consumer Insights Director, I have been working with the vast amount of insights we gather for an entire decade. And, it’s been interesting to see how consumers have evolved over this time span: from their embrace of online shopping (seen in full effect for Back-to-School this year) to the “spend now, worry later” mantra voiced by many before the burst of the housing bubble burst and subsequent meltdown on Wall Street. Even post-recession, consumers are adapting to the times, couponing at every corner, working within budgets, fattening up their piggy banks, and becoming attached at the hip to their favorite social media sites. And who really thought that – even as little as just a few years ago – that the term “mobile exclusivity” would enter our vocabulary?

Most certainly, a lot has changed in ten years.

While the advent of m-commerce might be a close second, I would argue that the clear turning post for consumer behavior during the last decade came with the “Great Recession.” Shoppers went from “spend now, worry later” to an “abort spending, worry, worry, worry” mindset. Holiday 2008 was an absolute disaster for most retailers, and, to this day, they are still trying to coax shoppers back in their stores. According to some of our latest insights, consumer confidence continues to trend below an ideal range, employment – or rather, unemployment – remains a chief concern, while decreasing overall spending is a financial priority to an increasing number of consumers.

Think about that last statement for a bit. The lagging consumer confidence, weak outlook for employment, and spending cutbacks we’re seeing currently applied to the 2009 consumer…and the 2010 consumer…even those in 2011. This persistent drought of positive economic news over the past several years has changed consumers’ approach to spending. Are frugal consumers the “new normal”?

If the economy continues at this lackluster pace, you betcha.

This month, we asked 8,500 U.S. consumers if they thought the economy would ever rebound to what it was before the economic crisis, and the results were fairly well divided: just over a third were hopeful for a rebound, while nearly as many either aren’t on the rebound bandwagon or are simply unsure.

Why is it important to get shoppers’ perspective on the matter? Doubt in the economy brews uncertainty and hesitation toward consumer spending. With two-thirds of Americans feeling pessimistic or indecisive about an economic rebound, we’re likely to continue to see heavy coupon usage, a strong focus on budgets, further attempts at debt reduction, targeted spending, price comparisons – smart shopping strategies executed by well-informed consumers (who have been made all the more knowledgeable by the recent rise of mobile devices).

Translation: if consumers are going to spend their hard earned money, they are going to make every dollar count.

It’s also important to note that with the economy flatlining over the past four years, optimism for a rebound has been waning among consumers. Back in July 2009, more than two in five were confident that the economy would bounce back to its pre-recession glory; the current figure represents a 20%+ drop from this point in time. On the upside, though, with the debt ceiling crisis looming back in July 2011, consumers harbored their worst feelings toward a rebound, so at least we’ve made some improvement versus a year ago:

So what’s a retailer to do? It’s all about the CONSUMER. Knowing who your shoppers are, what they are planning or willing to buy, and adjusting your merchandising mix, marketing strategy, and inventory levels accordingly will likely help you weather this economic maelstrom. And you might find that you have to chart a new course to ensure your long-term sustainability.

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

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