Survey: Consumers continue thrifty ways despite improving economy

Chicago A new report released Tuesday by market research firm The NPD Group found that despite news that the economy is improving, many consumers feel that their financial situation will not improve or will be worse over the next year.

The food and beverage market research report found that after two years of cutting corners, consumers have learned to get by with less and they say they will continue to practice thriftiness at least for the next six to 12 months and perhaps well beyond that.

The “What’s Next on the Road to Recovery” report, which explored how consumers’ habits related to food and beverage purchasing and usage have been affected by the recession, found that nearly one in five consumers expect to be worse off 12 months from now than they are today, and half of all consumers expect their financial situation to be the same as it is today.   Looking ahead, nine out of 10 consumers said they will plan and watch their spending on food and beverages outside the home.

“There are encouraging signs that the economy may be heading for recovery, but according to our findings, consumers, especially those with lower incomes, continue to struggle,” said Dori Hickey, director of product development at NPD and author of the report. “Most consumers have unquestionably felt the sting of tough economic times and have cut back on spending and adopted thriftier behaviors; behaviors that may become entrenched the longer the recession continues. Our findings suggest we may be looking at a new ‘normal’.”

According to the findings, 31% of consumers will increasingly use coupons for food and beverage from newspapers or magazines; 28.3% will  stock up on food and beverages when they are on sale; 27.3% will search store circulars for low prices on food or beverages; 24.3% will buy less expensive brands of food or beverages; and 23.5% will search for manufacturers’ coupons online.

“As food and beverage manufacturers and retailers begin to rethink their marketing communication programs as they start their recovery planning, it’s important that they understand their consumer’s mindset,” said Hickey. “Consumers lost personal wealth in this recession and they’re skeptical that ‘things will go back to the way they were.’ In their minds, it appears the road to recovery will be a long one.”

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