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Consumers Are Basket Cases

10/18/2010

The seemingly endless recession has brought on a new wrinkle to consumerism.

We’re cutting back – even on basic consumer goods, long thought to be recession-proof. The line of thinking has traditionally been shoppers may not be able to afford the Dior dress but they still need toilet paper and detergent.

Consumers are shopping less and with more purpose. Often choosing baskets over carts in grocery stores to avoid buying on impulse and too much. Some buy smaller packages (with a smaller price tag) or go for the volume packages (which are a better value and require less frequent replacement). Others go without dryer sheets, air fresheners and other who-ha’s once considered essential.

According to consumer consulting firm PwC – 93% of shoppers say they’ve changed their behavior as a result of the economic downturn.

Consumer Edge Research, in a survey of 2,500 American households, found that supermarkets’ own brands have become increasingly popular, especially in the staples categories such as milk, bottled water, cooking oil and peanut butter.

If the economy rebounds in our lifetime look for these behavioral shifts to carryover into better economic times. Partly because grocers, consumer product brands and mass merchants are adapting now but also because consumers are smart. Consumers are asking themselves, “Do I really need premium peanut butter?” Most likely the answer is no.

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