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Does Exercise Incite Positive Thoughts about the Economy?

The positive effects that regular exercise can have on our health and stress levels are well-documented; I personally enjoy the solitary time on my elliptical each morning reading Twilight The Changing American Consumer on my Kindle. But can breaking a sweat help boost economic confidence?

According to our August Consumer survey, 35.2% of those who regularly hit the gym [or pound the pavement?] are “confident” or “very confident” in chances for a strong economy, indexing slightly above the overall average (34.0%). Among those who prefer a more sedentary lifestyle, confidence was subpar (33.3%).

Exercisers are also prone to more positive thinking regarding the employment outlook. Nearly one in five (19.5%) is calling for “fewer” layoffs over the next six months, higher than the overall average (16.9%) as well as their couch potato counterparts (15.4%). Exercisers aren’t as likely to be sweating increasing layoffs, either; about one in four (26.7%) is expecting “more” layoffs, indexing below adults in general (27.6%) as well as non-exercisers (28.1%).

But while exercisers are making more positive predictions for the economy, they are adopting more realistic, financially conservative lifestyles. This month, half (50.7%) of those who work out regularly say they have become more practical in their purchasing, 28% higher than those preferring less active lifestyles (39.4%). Focus on necessities, sticking to budgets, and spending more time with the family are priorities to a higher proportion of those tending toward toning compared to those who, well, are not.

Exercisers are also making sure that their finances are in shape as well; nearly two in five (38.8%) maintains plans to decrease overall spending in the next three months, much higher than those leaning toward lounging (28.4%). We see nearly the same disparities when comparing plans to pay down debt and increase savings:

Also noteworthy: interest in exercising began accelerating when the economy hit the skids. In August 2007, fewer than one in three (30.5%) reported that they were working out regularly, while the economy prospered with a 43.9% confidence rate. Fast forward to 2012, and more are exercising (36.5%) while confidence has dropped to 34.0%:

Is the economic downturn/exercise upturn a just coincidence? Have we been turning to exercise to help alleviate some of the macro-environmental stress brought about by the Great Recession?

Or given the information deluge we’ve experienced via the online, mobile, and social media, have we just become more aware of the benefits of building up a sweat? More motivated?

Or with the growing number of baby boomers entering retirement, is a larger proportion of the population trying to stave off aging?

Or in this economy, is going for a run simply cheaper than dinner-and-a-movie?

Maybe we’ve just become tired of asking, “Do I look fat in this?”

Check out our other blogs on the topic of health and exercise:

One in Four McDonald’s Customers Unhappy with Their Health

Two-Thirds of Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods Shoppers Express Health Happiness

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – AUG-12 (N = 9426, 8/1 – 8/7/12)

© 2012, Prosper®

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Decreasing Spending Echoes Katrina Era + Pain at the Pump

April 27, 2012 1 comment

This month, my co-host for the BIG Call was Stacie Severs, Client Services Manager for BIGinsight and author of our Pain at the Pump blog series.

For the first half of the call, I presented new insight from our April Monthly Consumer survey, which included:
– Consumer Confidence, which stalled in April
– The “More of the Same” outlook for Unemployment
– The rising Focus on Needs, which is in range of recession-era Apr-09 and Apr-10
– The spike in plans to Decrease Overall Spending
– A BIG Forward Look at 90 day spending plans

For the second half of the Call, Stacie presented NEW findings on the impact of gas prices from our American Pulse survey. Here’s a preview:
– Nearly a third of consumers are filling up as soon as they see the price per gallon drop – regardless of whether or not they need it
– Two in five are shopping for apparel less frequently to help budget for the increasing cost of gas
– 20% are using their smartphones to research pump prices

To listen to the recorded webinar, click here.


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

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.

Generation Gap: Confidence Defined

The components that contribute to confidence can differ from person to person. Is the stability of the national economy most important? Where do personal concerns with employment, finances, and the future come into play? Does the stock market influence anyone’s sentiment regarding the economy?

In this new analysis of the more than 9,000 respondents who completed our March Consumer Survey, we’re taking a look at how consumers define confidence. And, to make it even more interesting, we’re dissecting this data by generation:

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

Among adults in general, “Trust in the stability of the national economy” was deemed to have the most influence when determining one’s level of confidence (49.5%). “Trust that your future financial situation will improve” (44.3%), “Trust in employment conditions and your ability to get or keep a job” (42.5%), and “Trust in a positive future for your family” (39.9%) followed.

Trust in the Stability of the National Economy

While stability of the national economy was important across all generations, it is most valued among Silents (60.5%) and Boomers (55.3%) – and was each of these segments’ top confidence influencer. The younger sects, though, were more likely to define confidence from a more personal perspective. Nearly half of Gen Y-ers (46.4%) said that employment conditions/ability to keep a job was most influential; this was also the #1 confidence component for Gen X (45.8%).

Trust in Employment Conditions and Your Ability to Get or Keep a Job

Gens X (42.6%) and Y (43.3%) were also more likely to add “Trust in a positive future for your family” to their confidence equation compared to Boomers (38.3%) and particularly Silents (33.3%). “Trust in the future place of employment” was important to nearly a third of each generation, save for the Silent generation (13.4%) – presumably with retirement in sight, or at hand, for these consumers.

Additionally, the older the generation, the more likely that macro-environmental issues play a role in defining confidence. “Trust in government’s international policy,” “Trust in stock market,” “Trust in government’s domestic policy,” and “Trust in regional economy” peaked among Silents and tapered off with declining age.

No matter how you define confidence, though, the slow improvement we’re seeing for consumer sentiment (currently at 34.8%) is a step in the right direction for an economy – and a population – that have been struggling for several years. Stay tuned to see if this optimism can be sustained throughout the springtime or if rising gas prices with quash this good feeling.

Very Confident/Confident in Chances for a Strong Economy

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

Source: BIGinsight™ Monthly Consumer Survey – MAR-12 (N = 9242, 3/6 – 3/13)

© 2012, Prosper®

BIGinsight™ is a trademark of Prosper Business Development Corp.

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