During the past six months, members of GenX (ages 35-44) have shown significantly higher than average rates of taking many cost-cutting measures, according to a new Harris Poll.

Generic Brands Popular with All Ages

harris-spending-saving-past-six-months-nov10.gifOverall, 62% of US adults have bought more generic brands in the past six months. Breaking down results by age bracket, generic brands were the most popular cost-cutting measure among all ages.

However, members of Gen X were especially likely to have purchased more generic brands in the past six months (70%), possibly reflecting this age group being in the prime portion of life to raise children and needing to buy more food/CPG products. Echo Boomers (18-33) were least likely to have purchased more generic brands (57%).

Gen X Also Brown Bags

While brown bagging lunch was overall the second-most-popular cost-cutting measure (45%), 62% of Gen Xers reported brown bagging instead of purchasing lunch. Only 14% of matures (65-plus) took this measure, likely reflecting the large percentage of adults in this age group who are partially or fully retired.

Gen Xers More Likely to Take Many Measures, Matures Less Likely

Gen Xers also reported significantly higher than overall rates of going to the hairdresser/barber/stylist less often (45% compared to 37%), switching to refillable water (44% compared to 37%), stopping purchasing morning coffee (35% compared to 22%) cutting back on cable or TV service (28% compared to 22%) and carpooling (20% compared to 14%).

Meanwhile, Matures were less likely to participate than the overall average in every category, with the widest differential occurring in brown bagging lunch. This may reflect Matures in general spending less in the first place, as well as the concentration of much of US wealth in the hands of older adults.

Reduction in Consumer Troubles May Not Improve Spending

US consumers reported generally fewer financial troubles in November 2010 compared to the prior year, but do not plan to greatly increase spending as the holidays approach, according to the latest Consumer Reports Index.

The Consumer Reports Trouble Tracker Index showed further improvement this month, pointing to fewer troubles for consumers (excepting healthcare), dropping to 49.3 in November from 50.5 in October, and is down substantially from a year ago (62.1).

However, the Next 30-Day Retail Index, (reflecting planned purchases for November 2010) is at 8 and is up slightly from last month (7.4), breaking three months of decline. However, planned purchases for November still lag one year ago (9).

About the Data: This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between October 11 to 18, 2010 among 3,084 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

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