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Archive for May, 2012

Have You Been Briefed for May?

Early each month, we release our Executive Briefing – complimentary topline insights from our latest Monthly Consumer Survey of more than 8,000 consumers.

May 2012 BIG Executive Briefing

Click to view this month’s Executive Briefing

Yesterday marked the release of our edition for May. Here’s what you may have missed:

The bloom is off the rose for Consumer Confidence…we saw signs of dampening sentiment in April (when confidence flatlined after five consecutive months of improvement), but sentiment for the economy declined two points from last month.

Nearly half maintains a penchant toward pragmatic spending, but this has declined four points from April. This figure remains elevated from May-11 and May-10, suggesting that market uncertainties (unemployment, gas prices, economic health, etc.) are still influencing spending.

While plans to decrease overall spending have lowered from the extreme we saw in April, cutting back remains at the fiscal forefront.

Drivers are anticipating an average price of $3.95/gal as we approach Memorial Day, lowering from the $4.17/gal expected at the end of April. Despite the recent declines in the cost of fueling up, the vast majority of consumers say their spending in other areas is still impacted by prices at the pump.

The Women’s Clothing battle is too close to call this month…after three consecutive turns as the leader in this category, Kohl’s shares the top spot with Walmart in May.

Are there cracks in Home Depot’s foundation? We examine the big builder and its competition in this month’s Consumer Migration Index.

Is Mom in for a treat on May 13? Six month purchase intentions are on the rise for all on our BIG Tickets items this month compared to May-11. A Mother’s Day favorite – Jewelry – is up 30%+ from last year.

– Move over Iron Man…Marvel’s The Avengers is no match for our favorite nonagenarian.

To sign up to receive the monthly BIGinsight™ Executive Briefing, please click here.

And, to view the latest BIG Executive Briefing in its entirety: May 2012.

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – MAY-12 (N = 8789, 5/2 – 5/8/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

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Gen Y’s Financial Lessons from Forrest Gump

By now we all should be aware that Gen Y* is a group of savers. According to our May Monthly Consumer Survey, more than two in five (41.9%) of these youngsters maintain plans to pad their piggy banks over the next three months. This compares to fewer than a third of Gen-Xers (29.6%) and just one in five Boomers (22.9%). (Silents clock in at 14.8%, but you’ve got to account for the large proportion of retirees in this group.)

Planning to Increase Savings Over the Next 3 Months

Maybe Gen Y hasn’t taken on enough life “experience” in the form of children, mortgages, loans, credit, etc. to put paying down debt at the forefront of their financial priorities. Maybe Gen Y is still relying on $upport from their Boomer and Gen X parents while working their way up the pay scale. Or perhaps – having just experienced the Great Recession – Gen Y has learned a few lessons from its elder generations. Let’s examine some of these would-be lessons à la one of my faves, Forrest Gump.

[While I do realize that the oldest members of Gen Y were 11 when this classic hit the theaters, please…just humor me on this.]

Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get. Financial crisis, anyone? How about the housing meltdown, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, dot-com bubble, war in the Middle East, or rocketing oil prices? [OK, we should have been prepared for a few of those.] Utopian society we are not; on both macro- and micro-environmental levels, we are always going to have something to be worried about. The difference between Gen Y and its older counterparts, though, is that the youngsters seemed to be preparing themselves for life’s uncertainties by improving their financial foundation. When asked to compare their personal financial situation to the previous year, more Gen Y-ers called their monetary “better off” (27.4%) than “worse off” (25.8%). In each of the older generations, those “worse off” outweighed those “better off.” Nearly two in five Boomers (38.0%) say they are “worse off” financially compared to this time last year, while just 14.5% think they are “better off.”

Stupid is as stupid does. Consumers buying on credit drove much of the spending growth we saw in the pre-recession 2000. Keeping up with the Joneses and living beyond their means left a lot of families in a lurch – and unable to keep up with their bills once the value of their McMansions plummeted, credit card fees and interest rates ratcheted up, and pink slips put many on the unemployment line. “Save not squander” might be the Gen Y financial mantra, as more than two in five (42.8%) say they are saving enough for future needs. This figure eclipses the rate of the second-highest financially prepared generation (Silents, at 31.0%) by a full 38%. Just over one in four Gen X-ers feel they are contributing enough to their piggy banks, while Boomers are the least likely to feel secure in their savings.

I am Saving Enough for Future Needs

It happens. Is anyone 100% secure in their place of employment? Unfortunately, a high unemployment rate is currently a fact of life, and – let’s face it – the current 8.1% doesn’t account for those underemployed or discouraged workers. Gen Y may be having trouble securing their first jobs, working up the pay scale, and avoiding LOFO [last on first off] layoffs. But in the event that “it” does hit the fan, this generation is making the most of the income that they have – by saving at rates higher than any other group. Nearly half (45.4%) plan to save more than 10% of their annual income, much higher than Gen X-ers (31.3%) and Boomers (22.9%). Of course, this may in part be the result of fewer financial obligations [*coughs* mortgages…children], but at least Gen Y is consciously saving and not burning through their paychecks, right?

And that’s all I have to say about that.

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

Inspiration for this post wasn’t completely random…I recently visited the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. in Miami.

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

* Generations were defined for this analysis in the following manner:

Silent (born 1945 or earlier)
Boomers (born 1946 – 1964)
Gen X (born 1965 – 1982)
Gen Y (born 1983 – 1993)

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – MAY-12 (N = 8789, 5/2 – 5/8/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

FYU: Department Store Domination?

As readers of our monthly Executive Briefing are already aware, 2012 has been a pretty exciting year for Kohl’s when it comes to the Women’s Clothing store shopped most often by the more than 8,000 respondents in our Monthly Consumer Survey. When we last visited this category in November 2011, Kohl’s had – for the first time in the history of our 10 year survey – surpassed Walmart as the top store shopped for this category. While discounter Walmart had the edge in January, April marked the third month in a row that Kohl’s has led this category – and it looks like the department store darling might be widening the gap between itself and the big discounter:

Women's Clothing - Kohl's v. Walmart

So what’s the deal with Walmart? Where is Kohl’s growing? And, are JC Penney or Macy’s posing immediate threats to the top two? For Your Understanding this month, we’re taking the Women’s Clothing catfight to the mats, courtesy of our Retail Ratings Reports*.

In just the first few pages of this handy guide, we can see that:
–  Among the fashion forward set – a faction growing in number – Macy’s is shopped most often (16.6%), followed by Kohl’s (11.2%), and JC Penney (8.2%).
–  Walmart’s core shoppers earn under $50,000 – and the discounter leads with these wage earners. However, among both the lucrative $50,000+ and $75,000+ income groups, Kohl’s, Macy’s, and JC Penney are the top stores shopped for Women’s Clothing, respectively.
–  Kohl’s (11.2%) and Macy’s (10.8%) also lead when it comes to 18-34 year old customers. Walmart’s strength lies with consumers 35-54 and 55+, though the discounter still plays second fiddle to Kohl’s in both cases.
–  Kohl’s and Macy’s are the top Women’s Clothing stores shopped in the Northeast, respectively, while their roles are reversed out West. Kohl’s (#1) and Walmart (#2) control the Midwest, and down South, Walmart maintains its stronghold (followed by Kohl’s).
–  While Kohl’s has recently overtaken Walmart for the top spot in Women’s Clothing overall, it appears that Macy’s may enter the mix as 2012 gets underway. From January to April 2012, share of Adults 18+ shopping the department store standard have increase 60%+ to a current 10.0%.
–  Finally, don’t discount JC Penney. Thanks to the retailer’s promotion-less new Fair & Square strategy, shopper interest has perked up in 2012 – in the short term, at least.

Women's Clothing - Store Shopped Most Often (Top 5)

But let’s look a bit deeper at the growing divide between Walmart and Kohl’s 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 Women’s Clothing shows that Kohl’s – and Macy’s – are growing in customer share, while Walmart is flatlining at best. In the all-important female shopper segment, Kohl’s share has risen 14%, Macy’s has boosted a whopping 43%, while Walmart (and JC Penney) have dropped 5%.

Women's Clothing - Consumer Equity Index (Female Shoppers)

And, recall that sweet spot of core customers for Walmart? If you were to analyze the CEI ratings for those earning under $50,000/year, you would find that both Kohl’s and Macy’s are growing in similar fashion as with the female population, while Walmart has seen a flat/meager 2% pick-me-up with this group. #departmentstoredomination?

Now you understand: It doesn’t appear that Kohl’s and Macy’s are directly poaching Walmart shoppers – they are growing their own customer bases (especially females and <$50,000 wage earners), while the big W’s share remains stagnant. Department stores are buzzing with consumers for 2012, and we did witness their increasing popularity for Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Mother’s Day. With this topic trending with shoppers, we could see some additional change-ups in the Women’s Clothing sector as 2012 progresses.

Bottom Line: Perhaps Walmart just isn’t keeping up with The Changing American Consumer.

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

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey, APR-11 – APR-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.

BIG on the Street: Hola Miami

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Miami, Miami, you’ve got style.
Blue sky, sunshine, white sand by the mile.
When you live in this town, each day is sublime.
The coldest of winters are warm and divine.

–  Rose Nylund, Dorothy Zbornak
The Golden Girls
Season 2, Espisode 6

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I never thought I’d see the day when I couldn’t count on the advice of my Girls. Having just flown back from a five day excursion to Miami, I had one expectation for this trip – a tan. Too bad it poured on Day 1…and Day 2…and Day 3 – you get the picture. Blue sky, sunshine my foot. If you are headed there sometime soon, don’t worry; Miami returned to normal beautiful weather patterns upon our departure. #vacationbust

Fun in the Sun? Note the sideways palms.

Fun in the Sun? Note the sideways palms.

While I didn’t manage to bring back my sunshine souvenir, I thought it would be fun to take a look at one of our southernmost states, courtesy of our monthly survey of more than 8,000 respondents (a portion of whom, of course, are Floridians).

While we already know that Florida is the “Best Bet for  a ‘Rerun’ Vacation” and is labeled “Most Attractive Attractions,” as it turns out, those living in the Sunshine do have style. More than a quarter of Florida residents (22.5%) say that newest fashion trends and styles are important to them, slightly higher than the national average (20.5%). While a third prefers traditional, conservative looks (33.1%), the largest proportion of Floridians opts for value and comfort over fashion (44.3%)…must be all of those retirees – nearly a quarter of those living in this southern state have withdrawn from the workplace (compared to about a fifth of the population overall).

When we look at retailers specifically shopped in Florida, it appears that Walmart and Kohl’s lose some of their nationwide appeal. Among Women’s Clothing connoisseurs, Macy’s (10.8%) takes top honors, followed by JC Penney (9.3%), Walmart (8.8%), Kohl’s (7.5%), and Ross (4.8%). While Walmart (13.9%) is shopped most often for Men’s (followed by JC Penney at 9.7%), Payless (11.7%) tracks ahead of the big discounter (10.5%) in Shoes.

Women's Clothing - Stores Shopped Most Often

Concluding the retail round-up, Florida-style:
– Walmart wins in Sporting Goods (15.6%), though Sports Authority (14.7%) finishes just a point behind. Dick’s takes bronze (9.2%).
– While the CVS lead nationwide is BIG news for the Prescription Drug category, this druggist (21.7%) still trails Walgreens (26.8%) in the Sunshine State.
– With two in five shopping here most often for Groceries, Publix (42.1%) brings the heat to match the humidity, those Walmart (27.6%) finishes a respectable second.

P.S. I’m not alone in my Golden Girls admiration…this TV classic ranked #2 among the shows that best portrays consumers’ groups of friends/social lives. Click here to view.

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.

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.

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