Consumer Segments Likely to Spend Differently in Tough Economy

October 30, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Analytics, Automated & MarTech | Household Income | Personalization | Retail & E-Commerce

Though nearly all consumers are facing economic uncertainty, their responses to economic difficulties differ – but not along conventional demographic lines, according to Acxiom Corporation’s first Retail Consumer Dynamics Study (RCD), reports Retailer Daily.

The Acxiom?study, an industry-specific analysis of consumer shopping behavior and attitudes, finds variations in how consumer segments perceive the economy and how that perception affects whether and how they will defer spending; the type of stores they will visit; and generally how they go about their daily shopping.

The study identifies nine consumer behavioral segments, placing those segments into three distinct groups that reflect consumers’ potential future behavior:


  1. Potential Rebounder (33% of consumers) – those likely to loosen up on spending sooner
  2. Status Quo (48%) – those not likely to change from current behavior
  3. Digging In (19%) – those tightening spending and retreating further

“Rather than thinking in simple terms of who is spending more versus who is spending less, this study allows us to see how consumers are making their decisions,” said Jie Cheng, vice-president of analytics and consumer insights at Acxiom.

Among the consumer segments that the study identifies:

  • Savvy Spenders (mostly married, affluent, young or mature, living in outer suburbs and rural communities) are more likely to spend sooner than other segments, given some improved circumstances.
    • Of the Savvy Spenders, 37% are shopping sales more often.
    • Savvy Spenders favor department stores for their combination of category offerings and brand/price options.
  • Those likely to shop more online are the Tight with Purpose; they are married and have children, and they’re upper middle income with professional or management careers.
  • The It’s My Life segment – mostly affluent young consumers maintaining a child-free city lifestyle – are not letting economic conditions change their shopping behavior. They shop in category-killer stores to benefit from the blend of brand selection and price.

“This challenging economy creates an exceptional opportunity for retailers and consumer product manufacturers to target direct messages to specific consumer segments in order to sustain and maximize a return on marketing investment,” said Jim Harold, industry executive for retail and consumer markets at Acxiom.

About the study: The Retail Consumer Dynamics study is based on an integrated data set combining consumer survey study findings with Acxiom’s consumer demographic, life stage and lifestyle information. The survey was conducted by BIGresearch, a consumer intelligence firm, and the analysis using 18,924 panel data points was performed by Acxiom.


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