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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

Generation Gap: What’s worth our tax dollars?

November 14, 2012 Leave a comment

With the “fiscal cliff” looming and potential tax increases on the horizon, it’s interesting to see where Americans of all ages agree (and where they don’t) when it comes to their hard-earned dough being divvied up by the government.

No big surprise, most Americans (71.2%) would rather shrink the size of government than raise taxes. Members of the Boomer Generation (75.9%), Silent Generation (75.2%), Gen X (70.5%) and Gen Y (61.9%) agree. But where should the government cut back?

Members of Generation Y appear most likely among the age groups to opt for a tax increase instead of cutting public services (police, education) or social programs (welfare, Medicare). The Silent Generation seems to agree, while the middle generations are mixed:

Although all generations appear willing to support education and safety, the majority of Gen X and the Boomers would prefer the budget for social programs like welfare get a trim before their paychecks.

Perhaps Gen Y is more likely to support higher taxes because most prefer to be unemployed! Over half (55.2%) say they would rather be unemployed and happy than be employed and miserable. While happiness is great, older generations are more likely to cope with misery if it means food on the table and shelter for their family:

It seems the Boomer Generation is the most likely to opt for employment even if it means unhappiness—perhaps they are housing some unemployed and happy members of the youngest generation!  :)

Source: American Pulse™ Survey, October 2012 #1, N = 3529

© 2012, Prosper®

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.

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.

Confidence Cools Off As Summer Heats Up + How Does the Stockholm Syndrome Relate to Savings?

June 27, 2012 1 comment

This month, my co-host for the BIG Call was John Mariotti, President/CEO & Founder of the Enterprise Group. John also currently serves as a Director on several corporate boards and is an award winning author.

For this month’s BIG Call, John supplemented our favorite data on confidence, employment, personal finances, and spending plans with his unique analysis and understanding of these topics.

Here’s what we talked about:
– Confidence in the economy cools off as summer heats up, marking the second consecutive month of decline
– Just 16% of consumers are calling for “fewer” layoffs – a figure that has decreased [i.e. grown more pessimistic] over the past two years
– Last month’s “dip” in practicality appears to have been a “blip” on consumers’ spending radar
– Why are consumers seemingly holding back when it comes to paying down debt or increasing their savings?
– Scary fact: One out of three consumers isn’t saving any income
– Improvements in 90 Day Outlook may not be as positive as they appear
How is JC Penney’s “Fair & Square” faring?

To listen to the recorded webinar, click here.

For the full, complimentary June 2012 BIG Call slide deck, please click here.

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

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – JUN-12 (N = 8760, 6/5 – 6/12/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

The IT List: Hottest Trends for 2011

December 20, 2011 8 comments

One of the more lively parts of our monthly survey is our What’s Hot/What’s Not section. Here, we ask respondents to rate a list of trends, personalities, events, etc. as “hot” or “not”; the items we ask about are based on input from our respondents from the previous month’s survey as well as a variety of current trending topics (i.e. expect Tim Tebow on the list in January 2012).

As 2011 comes to a close, we thought it’d be fun to take each and every item from our What’s Hot/What’s Not list for the year and compile the granddaddy of all “IT” lists: The Hottest Trends for 2011.1 So without further ado…

#10 Kindle Fire (Dec-11)2

This modestly priced tablet device quickly made Amazon.com’s bestseller list when it debuted in November. We’re just guessing here, but you can probably expect [quite] a few of these under the tree this year.

#9 Tablet Devices (Aug-11)3

Whether it’s the Kindle Fire, Apple iPad, Samsung Galaxy, or any one of a number of other Tablet Devices, consumers were hot for these gadgets in 2011. (And, current Android tablet device owners should be sure to check out our free InsightCenter™ apps.)

Solar Power

At #8, Solar Power was the top green-minded trend for 2011.

#8 Solar Power (Jul-11)

Going green was definitely red hot this year, with Solar Power leading the conservation-minded pack.

#7 Sending a Text (Oct-11)

While this ain’t your grandparents’ favorite form of communication, Sending a Text bested both Sending an Email (#13) and Sending a Card through the Mail (#49) when we asked in October. BTW, Sending an Email is the favored communication among Adults 55+.

Betty White

Betty White is Golden at #6.

#6 Betty White (Feb-11)

For the lovely Ms. White, 2011 was a continuation of a hot streak enjoyed by the near-nonagenarian since her scene-stealing role in The Proposal. Here’s to a wonderful 2012…as well as another gig on SNL…for this Golden Girl. #loveyoubetty

#5 Cookouts (Jul-11)

What’s more American than Cookouts in July? Maybe apple pie, but desserts weren’t on the menu included in our CIA® surveys this year.

#4 Apple iPad (Dec-11)

While we didn’t survey apple pie, that other Apple – as in the iPad – dominated the devices we asked about this year. December was the second time in 2011 we asked about the iPad…the first was in April (#21), so this device picked up steam as the year wound down. The aforementioned Kindle Fire (#10) as well as the Nook Tablet (#47, Dec-11) were the other specific tablet devices we surveyed this year.

#3 Having a Full-Time Job (Oct-11)

It’s a sure barometer of our economic health when the temperature’s this high on holding down full-time employment. Let’s hope that the 2012 job market is more prosperous.

Giving Thanks

We’re saying “Thanks” for reading this blog!

#2 Giving Thanks (Nov-11)

While Black Friday (#14, Nov-11) is increasingly giving Thanksgiving a run for its money, simply Giving Thanks was the second hottest item on our list this year.

Super Bowl XLV

Super Bowl XLV wins in 2011.

#1 Super Bowl XLV (Feb-11)

Is the 2011 Packer-Steelers match-up – and the most-watched TV program in U.S. history – a surprise to anyone? Even if you’re not into football, plenty of consumers used Super Bowl XLV as an excuse to view hotly-anticipated commercials, get together with friends, and enjoy the halftime entertainment.

Who were the hottest personalities for 2011? How about the top trends in fashion, entertainment, gadgetry, and going green? Stay tuned in the coming weeks for additional blog releases on this data.

Do you have a suggestion for the 2012 What’s Hot/What’s Not list or see anything surprising in this Top 10 list? Please leave a comment below.

And, for more information on this data, please contact BIGinsight™.

1 The Hottest Trends for 2011 is limited to the 145 trends, personalities, events, etc. that were included in one of the 12 2011 Consumer Intentions & Actions® Surveys. Looking for Ryan Gosling, Charlie Sheen, Pippa Middleton, Keurig Coffee Makers, Occupy Wall Street, or Groupon? We got ‘em. Sorry about your luck on George Clooney, Zooey Deschanel, beach vacations, any of the Real Housewives, or Sperry Topsiders; they just didn’t make the our cut this year.

2 The month/year each item was asked is denoted in parenthesis (MMM-YY).

3 Tablet Devices were also included in the What’s Hot/What’s Not section in Nov-11, landing at #15 on the Hottest Trends for 2011 list.

Source: BIGinsight.com

© 2011, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development

2011 Wrap-up + New Holiday Insights

December 19, 2011 Leave a comment

For the final BIG Call of 2011, we presented new Holiday Insights (as reported here by the National Retail Federation) as well as 13 month snapshots for Consumer Confidence, Employment Outlook, Practical Purchasing, and Personal Finances.

Key Takeaways:

Consumer Confidence: It’s been a bumpy ride this year, but consumers are closing out 2011 with nearly the same perspective on confidence in a strong economy as they did 365 days ago. There’s still a long way to go, though, before consumers begin to have warm and fuzzy feelings about the economy again.

Employment: Although the official U.S. unemployment rate reached a two year low in November, consumers have a nearly identical outlook for the job market now as they did at the end of 2010. Concern for the job market is still very real, which will play into the decisions consumers make in 2012 regarding their debt, savings, and spending as well as who they plan to vote for in the upcoming Presidential election.

Practicality: While consumers feel roughly the same way that they did headed into 2011, times over the past 13 months have been tougher, yet they’ve been better, too. Cautious spending will likely stick around in the New Year.

Personal Finances: Paying down debt and decreasing overall spending remain the top financial goals, but the importance of increasing savings is growing as we close 2011. It looks like consumers will begin 2012 with a more fiscally conservative mindset than they did for the start of 2011.

Holiday: Fewer consumers have completed holiday shoppers compared to this time last year. As of the first week of December, one in three shoppers either hadn’t started yet or has completed less than 10% of their purchases. Since displacing credit cards in 2005, debit cards continue as the most popular payment method for the holiday season. It appears that consumers do seem to be continuing to make a conscious effort to stay off the credit cards and stay on budget.

To listen to the recorded webinar, click here.

© 2011, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

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