2 in 3 Americans Purchase More Generic Brands

July 7, 2011

harris-consumer-spend-saving-trends-jul11.gifTwo in three (67%) of US adults have purchased more generic brands in the past six months as a response to the economy, according to results of a June 2011 Harris Poll. This is 8% higher than the 62% who did so in June 2009, but only 3% higher than the 65% who did so in June 2010.

Compared to February 2011, when 61% of adults had purchased more generic brands, the percentage has risen about 10%.

More than 4 in 10 Brown Bag, Reduce Haircuts

Generic brands are far and away the leading method for Americans to reduce their spending. Forty-six percent have practiced the next most popular method, brown bagging lunch instead of purchasing it, in the last six months. This percentage has remained consistently between 45% and 48% in every Harris Poll conducted on cutting back expenses since June 2009.

Meanwhile, 43% have cut back on going to the hairdresser/stylist/barber. This matches the high percentage recorded in October 2009 but is up 13% from 38% in June 2010 and 19% from 36% in June 2009. It is also up 13% from February 2011.

Most other activities have remained fairly stable since October 2009, but canceling landline phone service and stopping purchase of morning coffee have increased more than 33% since June 2009, and cutting down on dry cleaning and switching to a refillable water bottle have also substantially grown in popularity since two years ago.

Generations Take Different Approaches

harris-spending-saving-generation.JPGEach generation of adults has areas of spending cutbacks where they are participating either well more or less than average. For example, 45% of Echo Boomers (18-34) have switched to refillable water bottles, 15% more than the 39% average, but only 15% have cancelled magazine subscriptions, more than 50% less than the 31% average. In addition, 21% of Echo Boomers have started carpooling or using mass transit, 50% more than the 14% average.

Meanwhile, 58% of Gen Xers (35-46) have started brown bagging lunch, 26% more than the 46% average, and 21% have canceled landline phone service, 31% more than the 16% average. And 37% of Baby Boomers (47-65) have canceled magazine subscriptions, 19% more than the 31% average, while 30% have cut down on dry cleaning, 25% more than the 24% average.

Matures are marked by participating in several cost saving activities far less frequently than average. Only 17% are brown bagging lunch, 63% less than the 46% average (although this group including many retirees probably skews the result), and 34% are getting haircuts less often, 21% less than the 43% average.

In addition, Matures are 23% less likely to switch to refillable water, 32% less likely to cancel or cut back on cable TV service, 43% less likely to cut back on morning coffee, and 69% less likely to cut back on landline phone service.

Gallup: Consumer Spending Steady

Overall self-reported daily US consumer spending in stores, restaurants, gas stations, and online averaged $69 per day during June 2011, unchanged from May 2011 and essentially the same as the $67 average of June 2010, according to Gallup daily tracking data. Consumer spending has shown no improvement during the first half of 2011 compared with 2010, but remains slightly higher than in 2009.

About the Data: This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between June 13 to 20, 2011 among 2,163 adults (aged 18 and older). 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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