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SymphonyIRI: Economic, Political Woes Keeping Consumers Spending Shy

Consumers are embracing a wide variety of money-saving strategies to ease budgetary strains, according to SymphonyIRI Group’s Times & Trends report 2012 CPG Year in Review: Finding the New Normal. The market research firm predicts shoppers will remain frugal in 2013 despite signs of economic recovery and strengthening.

“For 2012, we forecasted that shoppers would continue to define value largely based on price, manufacturers and retailers would pass ongoing commodity price increases on to the shopper, and private label sales would continue in their current ranges,” said Piyush Chaudhari, SymphonyIRI president of the Americas. “These predictions largely came to pass, and we expect 2013 to [reflect]these same trends in many ways.”

Among the 2012 trends that will continue to impact consumer spending in 2013, as noted by IRI:

Shoppers will reduce the number of retail channels they visit. The share of consumers shopping at fewer than five retail channels grew by three percentage points between the first and fourth quarter of 2012, a trend that is likely to continue as shoppers limit spending to retail sectors they believe offer the best value.

Shoppers will remain intensely focused on value. Negative news about the federal budget deficit and costs associated with the new healthcare law, among other clouds on the horizon, will reinforce shoppers’ frugal behaviors adopted in the recession.

Millennials, a 50-million-strong-shopping group, will take over as the main driver of consumer spending from the Baby Boomers. Millennials have been forming their own habits and loyalties, so tailoring offers to the group and providing service that resonates with it should pay dividends for decades to come, literally and figuratively.

“New” media is rapidly becoming mainstream media, which suggests that the trend of shoppers leveraging the Internet for information and deals will continue growing. Millennials and a new generation that is even more tech savvy are becoming central to the marketplace and will respond to new media channels that have been part of their lives from the beginning.