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Posts Tagged ‘boomers’

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®

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Generation Gap: The “Normal” only appears to be “New” to older Americans

October 23, 2012 1 comment

You’ve heard the phrase “new normal” on the news, during conversation, in reference to the economy, etc…but what does it mean for most Americans? What has truly become part of normal everyday living in post-recession USA?

Most Americans agree that fluctuating gas prices (71.5%), the rising cost of food (63.5%) and high national debt (60.4%) are now normal parts of living in America that we just have to deal with. The slow-growing economy (53.1%) and the hassle of frequently shopping for sales (50.4%) also top the list.

Although fluctuating gas prices top the list of “normal” conditions for all age groups, members of the Silent Generation (83.9%) are more likely than those in Generation Y (57.5%) to say frequent pain at the pump is part of the “new normal.” Youngsters in the U.S. probably don’t remember when gas cost less than a dollar per gallon while those in the Silent Generation might be reminiscing of the good ol’ days when you could buy a gallon or two with the spare change in your pocket.

The generations also differ when it comes to modesty: not surprisingly, fewer members of younger generations notice a difference in the generally accepted code of conduct, while those in older generations are more likely to see a lack of modesty as a recent development in American living.

While the disappointment of deferring purchases is lower on the list of “new normal” situations to cope with, the Boomer Generation is most likely to feel the sting here. 39.6% of Boomers consider pushing off the purchase of a flat screen, vacation home or new car as just another part of living in the U.S. of A. For comparison, only 26.8% of Gen Yers agree.

For more on the “new normal,” head over to the Prosper Now Blog at Forbes.com.

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

© 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.

Generation Gap: Holiday 2012 Spending Preview

July 11, 2012 6 comments

Christmas in July?

With the Back-to-School shopping season just around the corner (or already here according to some of the ad circulars I received over the weekend), we’ll soon be looking ahead to that all-important holiday shopping season. And while spending specifics are still a little off on the horizon, we queried the 8500 consumer respondents in our July Monthly Survey about the direction they anticipated their holiday gift budgets to take for 2012: north, south, or even keel from the previous year.

While nearly three out of ten (28.1%) admitted that it was too early to tell, among those with a budget in mind, 10.2% are planning to spend more this year compared to last (up from 6.5% in Jul-11). Before you start ringing those jingle bells, though, keep in mind that the vast majority of shoppers plans to spend at (46.3%) or below (43.4%) their 2011 gifting budgets. Of course, holiday 2012 spending plans vary by generation*, which brings me to the subject of this post.

Among shoppers with spending expectations in mind, it appears that Gen Y will be the most generous this year compared to last. Nearly one in five (17.9%) of these youngsters is planning to spend more on gifts this year; this figure declines as age increase, with just 1.1% of the Grinches Silent generation boosting their budgets this year. Perhaps it’s the holiday excitement felt among Gen Y – and even Gen X – which lends itself to Santa-like spending outlooks this year.

Based on your present situation and feelings toward the economy, which of the following best describes your plans for the December Holiday Season?

Among shoppers in general planning to spend less, three out of five (58.9%) stated that they were simply going to cut budgets across the board. A large proportion is also planning to buy gifts only on sale (41.3%) or do more comparison shopping (33.5%) – so it looks like mobile devices may play key roles for these shoppers this year. #showrooming

You said you were planning to spend less on holiday gifts this year, which of the following are you doing?

Plans for spending less become all the more interesting when we look at this data divvied up by generation:

– Not on Sale? Not for Me: Boomers (45.6%) and Silents (43.7%) are the most likely to scrimp on budgets by only buying on sale. Gen Y (35.9%) is the least likely to be swayed into saving using this method.

– Pause My Purchase, Please: One out of ten of those in Gens X (9.6%) and Y (10.9%) are curbing gift budgets by utilizing layaway a bit earlier this year. This number drops with advancing age; just 3.9% of the Silent group plans to put gift purchases on hold.

– This is Pinteresting: Nearly three out of ten (29.4%) Gen Y-ers plan to pinch the pennies by making homemade gifts. Gen X indexed on average, while Boomers and Silents are less likely to do so. Perhaps this social media site is inspiring more DIY-ers among the younger generation?

Stay tuned…the holiday shopping season is shaping up to be pretty interesting this year.

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 – JUL-12 (N = 8509, 7/2 – 7/9/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

Generation Gap: Presidential Pop Quiz

June 29, 2012 2 comments

It seems as though Americans were right in saying the quality of education in the U.S. is slipping, and recent American Pulse results support that argument. 66.0% said our children’s knowledge of historical events has gotten somewhat or much worse in the past 10 years. However, it’s not just the children who are forgetting key facts about U.S. history—older generations’ minds are slipping as well, and they don’t have a “failing school system” to blame. The gold stars are few and far between for the Presidential Pop Quiz.

4 in 5 Americans (79.6%) don’t know who wrote the law of the land and is known as the Father of the Constitution. (Seems like an important tidbit that should be remembered instead of pop lyrics, sports stats or a date’s phone number.) Only 20.4% knew that James Madison is the man behind the manuscript that governs our country; most (59.8%) believe Thomas Jefferson wrote the Constitution. Members of Generation Y, those most recently submerged in the school system, were slightly more likely to pick Madison:

Having lived through a historical event seems to make it more memorable. Older Americans in the Silent Generation were most likely to remember that Franklin D. Roosevelt was responsible for the economic programs known collectively as the New Deal. 87.5% of these wise citizens picked the correct answer vs. 58.9% of the youngsters in Gen Y (still a majority though). Members of the Silent Generation know their assassination history better than other ages as well:

Now for the trick question:

Which president was in office when we landed on the moon?

  • John F. Kennedy
  • Lyndon B. Johnson
  • Richard Nixon
  • Gerald Ford

Did you pick out Nixon? The majority of Americans did not—JFK (36.8%) was the popular choice, likely because he declared in 1961 there would be a moon landing by the end of the decade. A significant number of citizens (27.4%) thought Lyndon B. Johnson was in office when we landed on the moon, since he was in office the same year, 1969 (perhaps a thank you should go out to the Disney show Even Stevens for a catchy tune about that). Overall, roughly one-third (32.3%) picked the right president. Boomers, followed by members of Gen Y, were most likely to name Nixon as the Commander in Chief when the lunar landing took place:

Although it seems factual knowledge of the U.S. presidents is lacking, American citizens have a good idea of which presidents would do the best job handling the current economic situation. Nearly 1 in 4 (23.5%) would bring back Ronald Reagan if they could pick any past or current president to run the country. Older Americans show more support for the former-actor-turned-politician; 30.5% of Boomers and 32.4% of the Silent Generation miss Reagan’s tax cuts, deregulation efforts and ability to sustain general prosperity across the nation. Bill Clinton was the #2 pick for most (#1 for Gen Y). I think it’s safe to say Americans don’t want another scandal, but they would prefer a drop in national debt! The #2 for Gen Y is current president, Barack Obama, third among the general population in presidential popularity.  To see how Obama stacks up in 2012, check out the American Pulse™ InsightCenter™, updated twice a month.

Fun Fact: 13.4% of Gen Yers would like to bring back Abraham Lincoln…because he was a truthful politician or because he hunts vampires? I am scared to know the honest answer to that one…

Source: American Pulse™ Survey, June 2012 #1, N = 3,603

© 2012, Prosper®

Generation Gap: Are schooling standards sinking?

June 20, 2012 2 comments

In an election year, important issues are top of mind and above the fold, and I’ve seen all things from the economy, health care, Social Security, gas prices…..but not education. Sadly, the majority of Americans (65.2%) feel the quality of education in the U.S. has gotten somewhat or much worse in the past 10 years. This number increases with age: a whopping 74.8% of the Silent Generation thinks schooling standards have sunk. 74.5% of Boomers, 61.7% of Generation X and 46.5% of Generation Y agree.

Not surprisingly, given our society with such luxuries as T9, auto correct and basic spell check, writing and spelling top the list of suffering subjects along with knowledge of historical events. The majority of Americans also said children’s abilities in the areas of life skills, reading and basic mathematics have gotten worse in the past decade:

Although fewer than the majority think science, vocational skills and creative skills are worse these days than in the past, they certainly aren’t any better. Only 18.2% believe trade/vocational skills are somewhat/much better and just 1 in 5 has seen improvement in children’s understand of scientific principles (20.8%) and creativity (21.9%).

Whether or not technology plays a part in the plunging principles of education is still up in the air. 51.3% of Americans say technology has had both a positive and negative effect on the quality of education—however, general consensus leads towards the positive:

Younger generations are more likely to recognize the positive effects of technology on education (learning basic computer skills, research and data analysis, virtual simulations from bacterial growth to flight imitation). More than one-third of Gen Y (35.5%) say overall technology has had a positive effect on learning. However, Boomers are more skeptical of technology’s educational benefits and may be thinking about how devices like smartphones can take the place of brainwork at times. Slightly more members of this generation (23.1%) believe technology has had a somewhat or very negative affect on education vs. those who say the outcome has been positive (21.7%). Perhaps these older Americans are thinking of things like spell checkers, instant access to the Internet to look up facts and even the ease of plagiarism with the web.

Although the majority has noticed a drop in educational quality, technology does not appear to be the culprit (or at least not the only reason why young Americans can’t spell basic words without the help of auto correct!)

Source: American Pulse™ Survey, June 2012 #1, N = 3603

© 2012, Prosper®

A Dog’s Life is for the Birds: “Low Price” Isn’t Key When Buying Food for these Family Members

June 4, 2012 1 comment

Dogs have been described as loyal, loving, protective, happy, companions, smart, even a little spoiled. But is Fido really man’s best friend?

What ONE WORD best describes your Dog?

What ONE WORD best describes your Dog? Owners were most likely to say “Loyal” or “Loving.”

In our latest American Pulse survey, we posed this very question to the portion of our nearly 4,000 respondents who reported they were dog owners (46.0%). Not too surprisingly, the majority of dog owners somewhat or strongly agreed (63.4%) that their dog(s) was indeed a “best friend.” But the really interesting part? More dog owners (66.8%) were willing to acknowledge that their four-legged friend(s) seemed “more intelligent than some humans I know.” [I wonder if a similar proportion of dog owners feels the same way in more educated countries.]

While many dog owners weren’t ready to cop to best friend status with their canine companions, they were willing to toss Fido a bone. The vast majority of dog owners (87.7%) agreed that they were proud to call their pooch(es) “family.”  Now as for [insert “choice” family member here], that’s another story…

Please rate your level of agreement with the following statements regarding the Dog(s) in your household.

In addition to family member status – or perhaps because of this – health is a top priority for our cherished canines (according to 87.6%). And, in an economy where many shoppers have been opting for generic brands, couponing like crazy, and zeroing in on lowest prices to keep food on their own tables within budget, it’s interesting to note that a “low price” isn’t the top reason to buy a particular brand of dog food. In fact, this penny pinching motivator barely cracks the Top 10 (#9 with 12.4%). Instead, the majority of dog owners (49.4%) most often choose the “brand I trust,” followed by “taste/dog seems to like it” (40.5%). Money does enters the purchase decision with 33.9%, but because the dog food brand is a “good value.” Quality ingredients (27.0%) and nutritional value (25.8%) round out the Top 5. Side note: fewer than one in ten (9.2%) are motivated to buy a particular brand of dog food because it’s natural or organic.

For which of the following reasons do you buy a particular brand of Dog Food most often?

A few other facts related to Fido:

Purina is Top Dog. Purina (i.e. Dog Chow, Beneful, ONE, etc.) is the dog food brand purchased most often by the largest proportion of shoppers (25.3%), while Pedigree (12.9%) and Iams (8.3%) follow. Fewer than one in ten (7.3%) opt for a Natural/Organic brand like Blue Buffalo, Nutro, Orijen, etc., while just 5.0% buy Walmart’s Ol’ Roy most often.
Gen Y Might Have an Attitude Problem. While nearly three-quarters of owners say their dogs are well-behaved, this number lowers to 68.8% among Gen Y. These youngsters are also less likely than their older counterparts to regularly exercise their furry friends. Hmmm…
Keep Calm and Carry On. Most (81.4%) agree that their dog is a comfort to them or helps relieve stress. This is especially true among Boomers (84.6%) and Silents (88.2%).
Empty Nest, but Cozy Canine Companionship. Among members of the Silent generation, nearly all (94.1%) admit that their dog is a member of the family, higher than any other generation. Seven out of ten (70.0%) in this group are also best buds with…well…Buddy, higher than the overall average.
Spare the Rod, Spoil the Dog? About three out of five dog owners (58.2%) confess that they overindulge their dogs with treats and toys. Perhaps too busy spoiling their children, Gen X-ers (54.5%) are the least likely to admit to this.

Girl's Best Friend - All Bark and No Meow

Girl’s Best Friend – All Bark and No Meow

And what’s the best part about dogs? They aren’t cats.

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: American Pulse™ Survey, MAY-12 #2

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ and American Pulse™ are trademarks of Prosper Business Development Corp.

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