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Consumers are Adopting ‘Depression-Era’ Behaviors

November 30, -0001

More consumers are trying to squeeze out every last drop from that toothpaste tube.

According toresearch from Information Resources, Inc. (IRI), a new generation of Americans is adopting practices similar to Depression-era shoppers, implemented both to weather the recession and to keep a close eye on spending long after the recession ends. The current economy has created a new niche of consumers that the Chicago market research company calls the “Downturn Generation.”

Data reported in IRI’s “Dissecting the Downturn Generation: Recognizing and Leveraging Permanence in Today’s Transformational Economy” report shows shoppers are changing their behaviors and these new habits are likely to stick, like shaking out all of that shampoo and storing the detergent bottle upside-down, when in the past they might have tossed them in the trash with some product still inside.

According to IRI data, just over 54% are trying to make cleaning products last longer, and 55% are adopting the same approach with personal care products, such as shampoo and razors. IRI also found that just over 48% are using smaller amounts of home cleaning products and materials in an effort to make them last longer, and more than 35% of them said they will continue this practice. Further, 63% are favoring all-purpose cleaners to save on the number of products they purchase overall, and 42% of those using these products today say they will use them continually.

The Downturn Generation—which is defined by mentality, not age—is likely to need significant convincing before they believe it is safe to spend again.

“We believe the Downturn Generation will continue their current behavior patterns until they have regained confidence in the U.S. economy.Interestingly, shoppers looked for a return of ‘stability’ as a signal that the economy is pulling out of the recession, in particular, ‘stability’ across gas, food and energy prices, as well as home values,” said IRI Consulting and Innovation president Thom Blischok.

More than 69% said they are more likely to look through ads for deals and 65% said price is becoming more important than convenience. IRI notes that consumers are becoming more resourceful and strategic when planning their personal care and household cleaning purchases. For example, they are turning to the internet to help prepare for purchases, clip online coupons and research products and services before making a decision. More than 44% are using online resources to find coupons, and 55% of them plan to continue this practice into the future.

“CPG retailers and manufacturers must plan for the continued practice of these new behaviors in order to meet consumer needs and continue to thrive in business,” Mr. Blischok added. “CPG innovators can inspire the Downturn Generation by providing promotion strategies that match their desires, speaking to them through online sources, and realizing that a product that is good enough is really good enough. These strategies can help brace us for the new conservative consumer.”

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