US, Spain, Germany Perform Worst on Consumer Behavior Scorecard

April 8, 2009

Three of the world’s top GDP countries (Germany, Italy and Spain) have economies that are continuing to weaken, while only one country (Canada) is showing overall improvement, according to a scorecard of consumer behavior in The Nielsen Company’s Economic Current (NEC), which consolidates key consumer data from Nielsen’s global research resources.


The March NEC (pdf) summarizes detailed country and region findings on a monthly basis by tapping into key consumer trend data from Nielsen’s consumer practice. The NEC also incorporates a set of economic data including employment and inflation. According to Nielsen, the scorecard provides a quick and easy-to-decipher assessment of which countries are growing or declining.

To compile the scorecard, Nielsen ranks overall national economic performance on a scale of one to five, with one representing very strong growth (more than 5%). India and China were the only countries that scored ones in January 2009, while Canada and Russia scored twos (growth between 1% and 4%).

The United States and Germany both scored a four, which was worse than any other country tracked except Spain.

The NEC, which includes 11 of the top 12 GDP countries, launched with data from December, 2008 and January, 2009 to set baselines and track these indicators over time. The scorecard provides a quick assessment of which countries are growing or declining. Further drill down data reflects country-specific information on eight key factors:

  • Nielsen’s Market Index – value
  • Nielsen’s Market Index – volume
  • Move to store brands
  • Shift to value channels
  • Retailers’ use of promotions
  • Frequency of consumer shopping trips
  • Consumer spending per trip, and
  • Nielsen’s Global Consumer Confidence surveys.

Based on these eight factors, the global NEC top-line results for March reveal the following trends:


  • Consumers in the US reversed a six month trend of declining number of shopping trips and spending per trip.
  • Consumers in both the US and Canada spent more per trip across fast moving consumer goods (FMCG).
  • Consumers in the US and Canada sought value through store brands and discount retailers.
  • Western Europe also saw an uptick in the number of shopping trips
  • Store brands and value channels remain strong.

Specific top-line data for the US revealed the following:


“So far we’ve seen that the consumer behavior expected by some, such as a rush in to cheaper private labels, buying more products on promotion, and shopping in the discount channels, together with a reduction in volumes, has not materialized in many markets,” said Jonathan Banks, business insight director for Nielsen in Europe.

“Whilst a lot of households are cutting down on expensive purchases such as holidays, and delaying the replacement of their cars, food is only around 15% of household expenditure in developed countries, people still need to eat and whilst parts of the restaurant trade may be suffering, many of us are switching from having a ‘big night out’ to a ‘big night in’ with food being an inexpensive treat,” Banks added.

A recent research report from Miller Zell and a study from Better Homes and Gardens both reinforce that this trend to eat in is growing among various US demographics.

About the report: The NEC, of which the scorecard is part, includes 11 of the top 12 GDP countries (US, Canada, France, Germany, UK, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Russia, India and China). Further drill down data reflects country-specific information on eight additional factors including shifts in retail and consumer behavior and financial trends.

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