Post-Recession Shopping Behavior
The New Consumer Behavior Paradigm: Permanent or Fleeting?
By Kantar Retail and PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP
• As a result of the shifts in shopping behavior emerging from this recession,
shoppers will take a more thoughtful approach to buying, leaning toward
more pragmatic and practical purchases vs. rampant deal-seeking
• Up-market Gen X and Gen Y shoppers will take the lead in the recovery.
Gen X is in the middle of a high-spending life stage and Gen Y has a greater
willingness to spend, especially on new technologies.
• Companies need to recognize that there will not be a wholesale return to a
pre-recession shopping mode and will need to adapt to the changed
behaviors and patterns to win in today’s changed marketplace.
An enduring shift
The economic shocks of the past two years have created greater urgency for
retailers and their suppliers to understand and respond to the new marketplace
realities—not the least of which is the fact that the recession has changed
shopping behavior: seventy-two percent of all shoppers recently indicated that
their shopping behavior has changed significantly or somewhat as a result of the
economic environment, and only 7% have made no changes at all (Figure 1).
The shopping behavior data coupled with the demographic trends suggest that
an enduring shift has taken place as a result of the Great Recession. Going
forward, purchases will be more deliberate and purposeful. Conspicuous
consumption will give way to more conscious or practical consumerism.
Rampant deal-seeking will be replaced by more purchase selectivity and the use
of shopping techniques and tools discovered during the recession.
The source of consumer spending also will radically change. Baby Boomers,
who have fueled consumer consumption over the years and who also have
helped lead us out of the most recent previous recessions, will not be in position
to lead the way out of this recession as they near retirement and conserve
savings. Instead, the up-market segment of Generation X (aged 29–45) and the
leading edge of the young Generation Y (aged 10–28) will lead the recovery.
Retailers will have to adapt their plans and approaches to appeal to this new
generation of consumers.
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