Americans Fund Passions

September 10, 2010

Most Americans continue to spend money on key discretionary “passions” even as the recession continues, according to the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker.

Food Leading Passion
This month’s American Express Spending & Saving Tracker surveyed consumers on their spending habits across four popular areas of interest: food, electronics and gadgets, sports and fashion. The majority (68%) of Americans say that since the recession began (most economists have pegged the recession as starting in Decemeber 2007), they did not decrease spending in the areas they are most passionate about.

Of the four leading “passions,” food (60%) is most popular, followed by electronics and gadgets (35%), sports (34%), and fashion (25%).

Sports Fans Cut Least, Feel Least Guilt
Sports fanatics were most apt to forgo cuts (76%), followed by techies (67%), fashionistas (54%) and foodies (53%). Not surprisingly, sports fans were also most likely to enjoy spending on their passion and never feel guilty (49%), while another 29% enjoy spending on their passion but feel guilty about it.

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A similar percentage of foodies spend without guilt (46%), but a much higher percentage spend despite guilty feelings (38%). Techies had similar responses to foodies. Fashionistas had the lowest percentage of spending without guilt (34%) and highest percentage of spending despite guilt (50%).

Foodies Spend Most, Sports Fans Least
Foodies lead the pack in average annual spending on their passion in 2010. On average, foodies appear to spend significantly more on their passion annually ($2,447) compared to the other three groups: fashionistas ($1,444), techies ($1,329), and sports fanatics ($725).

Larger Ticket Items Popular
In a piece of good news for marketers and retailers of items that appeal to these four passions, consumers prioritized spending on larger ticket items when ranking what they spend on most often to indulge in their passion:

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8 in 10 Adults Watch Cooking Shows
In another sign that food is a passion for many American consumers, 8 in 10 US adults watch cooking shows at least rarely, according to a new Harris Poll. Just one on five U.S. adults (21%) say they never watch TV shows about cooking while three in 10 (29%) do so rarely, one-third (34%) do so occasionally and 15% watch cooking shows very often. Baby Boomers and women are most likely to watch cooking shows.

About the Data: The research sample of 2025 consumers among the U.S. general population included two subgroups: the affluent (household income $100k+) and young professionals (under 30, college educated, household income $50k+). Interviewing was conducted by Echo Research between August 17 and August 20, 2010.

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