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Fresh Consumer Insights for July

July 17, 2012 3 comments
BIGinsight Executive Briefing - July 2012

Click to view the July 2012 BIGinsight Executive Briefing.

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

And, we’ve just released our latest edition for July. Here’s what you may have missed:

– Economic sentiment perked up from June, though consumers failed to set off any fireworks compared to years past. This month’s reading (32.8%) looks a little stagnant when placed in longer-term perspective – and well below Jul-07’s pre-recession figure of 47.8%.

– Workers show signs of concern for personal job security. 4.2% admitted they were anxious about becoming laid off, up from last month as well as one year ago.

– With the campaign season about to hit full throttle, consumers seem to be bracing for the onslaught of political propaganda. Overall, though, consumers seem a little less apprehensive this Presidential go-around they did during the 2008 McCain vs. Obama election. Plus: how would you score in a Presidential Pop Quiz?

– The uptick in consumer confidence this month may be leading a few shoppers off the practicality platform. Before you start thinking “spending rebound,” though, keep this in mind: practicality remains well above the sensible shopping tendencies we witnessed before the Great Recession.

– July pump price prediction: $3.49/gal, 25 cents below the forecast for the end of June ($3.75/gal). For more on this topic: Pain at the Pump: Who (or What) is Controlling Pump Prices?

A bit of Christmas cheer might be in store for retailers: one in ten says they plan to spend more on gifts this year, up from 6.5% in Jul-11.

Was JC Penney’s Fair & Square strategy a gift to Macy’s in Women’s Clothing? For the sixth consecutive month, Macy’s bests JC Penney in this category, though Kohl’s and Walmart continue to lead overall.

In the well-documented Shoe Wars, one retailer is M.I.A. in July. Yes, that’s right (and you heard it here first)…JC Penney (now #6) has been bounced from the Top 5 by Foot Locker.

– 90 Day Outlook: Back-to-School (i.e. Children’s Clothing) looks to be a bright spot in consumers’ spending plans. However, with the majority of categories facing DOWNward compared to June, revenues may fizzle instead of sizzle as we make our way through summer.

– What’s Hot? Farmers’ fresh fare beats out Spider-Man, Dark Knight.

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

And, to view the latest BIG Executive Briefing in its entirely: July 2012.

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.

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June Insights – Hot Off the Press!

June 18, 2012 1 comment

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

BIGinsight June Executive Briefing

Click to view this month’s Executive Briefing

And, we’ve just released our latest edition for June. Here’s what you may have missed:

– As the summer weather heats up, confidence in the economy cools off. This month, just 31.3% feels very confident/confident in chances for a strong economy, down from last month and marking the second consecutive month of decline for this indicator.
Good luck, Class of 2012: With the official U.S. unemployment remaining a discouraging 8.2%, an increasing number of consumers foresee a rise in layoffs over the next six months compared to May.
– May’s dip in practicality appears to have been just a “blip” on consumers’ spending radar. Additionally, practicality remains elevated from the June readings we recorded during the recession, suggesting that fault lines in the macro-economy are still rattling spending plans on a micro level.
Pain at the Pump: No gas price “fireworks” expected to set off for upcoming the holiday. Drivers are anticipating an average pump price of $3.75/gal by the end of June, 20 cents lower than their prediction for the close of May.
– Walmart wins in Women’s Clothing, while JC Penney is slipping.
– Consumer Migration: While Walmart’s travails are well-documented in Women’s Clothing, does the big discounter’s outlook look any brighter over in Men’s section?
– 90 Day Outlook is looking UPward compared to the past two years.  However, with spending for the majority of merchandise categories weakening compared to May, look for practical consumers to continue to exercise caution when spending.
– What’s Hot? Saving is in style, with Coupons taking the top spot in our list of What’s Hot for June. [#attentionJCP]

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

And, to view the latest BIG Executive Briefing in its entirely: June 2012.

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.

“Fair & Square” Revisited

June 14, 2012 9 comments

When we first took a look at the new JC Penney “Fair & Square” strategy back in March, the initial read was so-so from the consumer standpoint. In our monthly “Hot or Not?” feature, more deemed it “not” (58.3%) than “hot” (41.7%), though JC Penney Women’s Clothing Shoppers* seemed the most willing to give the strategy a chance, particularly compared to Kohl’s, Target, and Walmart shoppers.

Flash forward to June…

In the wake of JC Penney’s disastrous Q1 earnings report, we decided to again poll our nearly 9,000 consumers for an update on their “Fair & Square” feelings. As you can imagine, it’s not faring so well; over the past three months, those who think JCP’s new direction is “hot” dropped nearly 14%:

Hot or Not? JC Penney's "Fair & Square" Ad Campaign

But the real issue here is how “Fair & Square” has affected JC Penney’s consumer share. A look at 10 years of BIG historical data on the current Top 5 Women’s Clothing retailers tells three tales:

1. The Decline of Walmart
2. The Rise of Kohl’s
3. The Macy’s / JC Penney Clash

Women's Clothing - Shop at Most Often

Let’s leave Walmart and Kohl’s out of the story for once and make JC Penney and Macy’s the main characters. As you can see, since Macy’s nationwide conversion in the mid-2000s, these two department stores have been tangling pretty consistently for third place in this category – with JC Penney generally the victor. However, a magnified look at each retailer’s performance over the past 13 months shows just how damaging “Fair & Square” was for JCP’s customer base:

Women's Clothing - JC Penney / Macy's Snapshot

Instead of driving shoppers to its stores, “Fair & Square” sent its customers right into the arms of competitors. #whatanightmare

* A selection of Women’s Clothing retailers was analyzed for this report. “Women’s Clothing Shoppers” are defined as those who shop most at a given retailer for Women’s Clothing (an unaided, write-in response).

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.

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.

Why Are Shoppers So Glum About Spending?

April 16, 2012 3 comments

As we recently reported in our April BIG Executive Briefing, two in five consumers (39.8%) say they plan to decrease overall spending over the next three months…that was April’s top financial priority, dethroning the usual intent to pay down debt (34.7% in Apr-12).

Forty percent actively attempting to curtail their expenditures is a big number. So big, in fact, that we’ve only approached this figure three times in the past SEVEN years. Researching this a bit further, it was pretty easy to tie a piece of history to each of the three previous peaks: Hurricane Katrina, the Summer ’08 Record High Gas Prices, and Holiday ’08 (see chart below, but don’t strain your brain…I’ll break it down in a second). Because two of these three events had at least a little something to do with pump prices, I added in the average price per gallon of gas during the week of our survey collection, as reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Plans to Decrease Overall Spending v. Average Price Per Gallon of Gas

Now, let’s break this down historically:

Hurricane Katrina: When this natural disaster slammed into the Gulf states in Aug-05, we were all affected nationwide. New Orleans, et al were literally adrift, slow response times left victims with prolonged suffering [*coughs* FEMA], and price per gallon of gas soared to $3 [ah, $3/gal…how I miss thee]. By September, consumers were responding with their spending sentiment: 40.0% were planning to decrease overall expenditures. As you can see in the chart though, as pump prices edged back downward, consumers backed off this conservative fiscal mantra.

Summer ’08 Gas Price Highs: According to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report, pump prices hit an all-time high on July 17, 2008, at $4.114/gal. By now we were also in the belly of the recession, and 39.2% of consumers reacted with plans for spending cutbacks. And though gas prices bottomed-out by Holiday 2008, consumer spending plans didn’t respond in kind #thankyoubankfailures

Holiday ’08: It’s safe to say that the Holiday 2008 shopping season was a disaster. The severe spending cutbacks that materialized with shoppers were not anticipated by retailers, who were left deeply discounting the massive amounts left on their store shelves pre- and post-holiday. More than two in five consumers (42.9%) rang in New Year 2009 with resolutions to decrease overall spending, a record high. So – obviously – it’s not always gas prices that ignite spending cutbacks among consumers…sometimes, you can blame it on a recession.

Furthering the point that pump prices aren’t always that culprit, when the cost of fueling up topped off at over $4/gal last May, drivers didn’t have a fiscal knee-jerk reaction. While at the time consumers were bracing for a $4.25/gal price by Memorial Day ’11, that never materialized and plans to decrease overall spending continued to fluctuate in a relatively [new] “normal” 30% to 35% range.

So what’s different this year? Average gas prices have crossed that $4/gal threshold again, and 39.8% have responded with plans to cut back. Have consumers just had enough? Are they tired of dealing with pump prices in addition to the inflating price tags on apparel, food, and other household items? Are they not willing to tap into their hard-earned savings to cover the additional costs of fueling up? Are they hedging on a response [or lack thereof] from Capitol Hill?

At any rate I think it’s safe to say that if gas prices don’t cool off as summer heats up, retailers might be in for a spending drought.

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

Like the timeline infused with BIG data? Be sure to sign up for complimentary access to our Vital Signs InsightCenter™, an advanced platform for the visualization and delivery of insights and answers on how consumers in the U.S. are reacting to key economic events. It illustrates how consumers feel about the economy, changes they make in their lives in reaction to the economic situation, and how their personal financial and spending plans are affected by key events. It goes beyond traditional point-in-time data reports to trended insights in one easy-to-use, decision-ready format.

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.

Consumer Buzz: Women’s Clothing

April 12, 2012 3 comments

According to new analysis by BIGinsight, department stores are more buzzed about than discounters when it comes to shopping locales for feminine apparel.* For this special report, we’ve applied the Net Promoter Score** metrics system to our April Consumer Survey data to show how consumers perceive their Women’s Clothing store of choice.

Here, we took the percentage of a destination’s detractors from the number of those who actively promote their Women’s store of choice, which helps us evaluate the strength of a retailer’s image for the Women’s Clothing category. And, among the Top 5 stores for this segment, we found that Kohl’s receives the most net positive buzz (NPS = 36.2%) from its customers, followed by Macy’s and JC Penney (see below). While Target’s NPS was significantly lower than its department store counterparts (at 2.6%), the discounter still garnered an overall positive rating. That other big discounter – Walmart – was the only retailer in the Top 5 to calculate a negative NPS (-10.3%)…ouch.

Net Promoter Score - Women's Clothing

It’s interesting to note that while the most buzzed about retailers are department stores by definition, each courts customers based on varying motivations. For the Kohl’s and JC Penney shoppers, price and selection are the key reasons to peruse their racks; for Macy’s, it’s quality and selection. At Walmart, customers shop based on price and location, while Target woos shoppers with a mix of price, selection, and location (shoppers seem divided between the latter two).

Women's Clothing - Select Reasons to Shop a Store Most Often

What analysts are buzzing about, though, is consumers’ reaction to JC Penney’s new “Fair & Square” pricing strategy. As it turns out, JC Penney’s customers just aren’t as likely to be lured by coupons and special deals when it comes to shopping the Women’s section. While Walmart and Target are the least likely to be motivated by this sales simulant, over at Kohl’s, we might see shopper anarchy if this department store darling adopts a similar strategy #kohlscashforever

Coupons/Special Sales Motivate Women's Clothing Purchases

*April 2012’s Top 5 Retailers for Women’s Clothing (Kohl’s, Walmart, Macy’s, JC Penney, Target) were analyzed for this blog.

**Net Promoter, NPS and Net Promoter Score are trademarks of Satmetrix Systems, Inc., Bain & Company, and Fred Reichheld

The NPS which takes a simple question–Would you recommend us to a friend?–has helped countless organizations better understand “promoters” and “detractors” and paint a clear picture of their company’s performance through the eyes of their customers. By applying the Net Promoter Score*, executives can identify their customer base and move beyond “sufficient” to brand loyalty and growth.

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.

“Fair is Fair” but is Square…well…Square?

March 22, 2012 8 comments

As any self-respecting child of the 80’s knows – “Fair is Fair.” Doesn’t the theme from that nearly 30 year old [ack!] cult classic take you back? Pat Benatar, anyone? Supergirl? An undying love for Christian Slater? But I digress…let’s hop out of the DeLorean and evaluate what really got me thinking about “Fair is Fair”:

JC Penney’s new “Fair & Square” Ad Campaign

The complete overhaul of JCP’s marketing, merchandising, and promotions plans certainly made headlines in the retail community, but what do consumers really think about this strategy switch-up? In addition to being practical and realistic in their purchasing, today’s shoppers are also “intelligent”: researching products, comparing prices, stalking sales, and couponing like crazy.  And, consumers are all the more informed when aided by their mobile devices. Knowing all this, it seems that JCP’s new “Fair & Square” approach might be as dated as a Flock of Seagulls hairdo. So who’s buying what JCP’s selling?Hot or Not? JC Penney's "Fair & Square" Ad Campaign

In our March Consumer Survey of more than 9,000 consumers, we put JC Penney’s “Fair & Square” Ad Campaign to the test in our monthly “Hot or Not?” feature. As it turns out, more deemed it “not” (58.3%) than “hot” (41.7%) – placing “Fair & Square” in the middle of the pack compared to the other items we polled this month.

But who are the two out of five customers who have at least had their interests – if not their wallets – piqued by “Fair & Square”? These shoppers are more prone to be women (59.9%), married (53.2%), middle-aged (46.7 years, on average), and earning about $56,000/year…sounds like JC Penney’s typical Women’s Clothing shopper.

Is that not interesting enough for you? Let’s take a look at “Fair & Square” from a different perspective – Women’s Clothing shoppers from competing retailers.* Interestingly, fewer shoppers at Walmart – home to the somewhat similar EDLP pricing strategy – warmed up to the idea of “Fair & Square.” Macy’s, Nordstrom, and Old Navy shoppers were relatively more excited by the concept than Kohl’s or Target loyalists:

JC Penney's "Fair & Square" Ad Campaign is HOT

From this standpoint, it appears that most shoppers have a so-so opinion of “Fair & Square” so far. Perhaps they’re walking into JCP to see what all of the fuss is about, but whether or not they’ll convert to the retailer over the long haul remains to be seen – as does the department store’s ability to retain its current customer base.

Ah, Love Retail is a Battlefield.

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

* A selection of Women’s Clothing retailers was analyzed for this report. “Women’s Clothing Shoppers” are defined as those who shop most at a given retailer for Women’s Clothing (an unaided, write-in response).

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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