The era of conspicuous consumption is over. Americans no longer live to shop. They shop to live.
That's the conclusion of a newly released national marketing study.
"Americans have changed how and where they shop, first through necessity, now through choice. They have a new set of shopping values that are entrenched, certainly, for the near term," Wendy Liebmann, chief executive officer of the marketing strategy and consulting firm WSL Strategic Retail, said on the release of How America Shops 2010 MegaTrends Study, "The Odyssey Begins to the New Retail World."
"While the recession is ending and shopper panic is over, shopping apathy is now a way of life," said Candace Corlett, president of WSL. "In spite of that, there is opportunity to be had if companies understand the new shopper rules."
Among the findings:
--53 percent of women think the recession will last at least another one to two years.
--43 percent think it will take at least another three to six years or more.
--63 percent of shoppers, even the affluent, don't want to buy as they did before.
--70 percent of women agree, "It is important to get the lowest price on most things I buy."
--64 percent of shoppers ask themselves, "Is this a smart use of my money?" That's an increase of 9 percent since 2008 and 16 percent since 2004.
--53 percent of shoppers will go farther to shop in stores where they can save money. That's down 5 percent from 2008, when gas prices were higher, and up 10 points since 2004.
--47 percent of women are uncertain about the future, so 52 percent are staying out of stores where they are tempted to overspend. (The same is true for one-third of those earning over $150,000.)
--32 percent constantly worry about how much debt they have, and 25 percent have promised themselves they will never get into such debt again.
--50 percent now choose lower priced brands, up 16 percent since 2004.
--Only 31 percent agree that trusted brands are worth paying more.
--38 percent agree they still love to shop even though they are buying less of everything.
--25 percent of shoppers with $150,000-plus incomes say their finances were not affected by the recession, but one-third are cutting spending, avoiding places where they are tempted to overspend and are content buying less.
--50 percent or more of all age and income groups think the recession will be around at least two more years and agree it will take them at least two more years to recover their financial stability. (One difference is that more of those 55-plus, whose prime earning years are behind them, have no idea when, or if, their finances will recover.)
"Companies need to recognize that these shopper truths will remain for the foreseeable future, and begin to build strategies to address them," Liebmann said. "Clearly, smart shoppers need to be convinced why they should spend today, what makes a brand or a store worth it. Do that, and there's a chance they will."
The survey of 1,950 men and women was conducted Nov. 3-9. Could be that some attitudes have changed since then.
Reach Warren Wise at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Retail consumers are slowly coming back. They just look different.