Savings behaviors escalate

July 12, 2011

Consumers tighten their belts more as 2011 unfolds with an iffy economy ahead.

Consumers are looking to conserve money again. Uncertain economic prospects ahead have led more American adults to buy generic brands, brown-bag lunch, and use refillable water bottles in June 2011 than had done so as recently as February 2011.

The Harris Poll has measured these and other day-to-day consumer savings practices seven times since 2009, and the latest figures show more belt-tightening across the nation. Harris Interactive surveyed 2,163 adults online in mid-June.

For example, generic brands were bought by 67% of adults in June vs. 61% in February. There were differences among generational segments – from 62% by Echo Boomers age 18 to 34 to 69% by Matures age 66 and older.

Brown bagging lunch edged up a bit overall to 46% in June vs. 45% in February. Across generations, this ranged from 17% by Matures (often retired) to 58% by Generation X age 35 to 46.

Switching to refillable water bottles rather than buying bottled water moved up to 39% in June from 35% in February. This behavior ranged from 30% among Matures to 45% among Echo Boomers.

Meanwhile, the percentage of U.S. adults that stopped purchasing coffee in the morning remained steady at 21% between February and June.  This incidence ranged from 12% among Matures to 19% among Echo Boomers, to 24% among Baby Boomers age 47 to 65, and 27% among Generation X.

Retailers that can adjust their offers to consumers’ economic sensitivity and desire to conserve money will be most relevant to concerned households, in our view at The Lempert Report. Studies like these can help stores fine-tune their marketing to some degree.