Confidence Trending North

IRI MarketPulse survey finds consumers largely optimistic

Consumer confidence about the U.S. economy sees more male consumers wearing rose-colored glasses, with millennial consumers—some men but mostly women—having a jaundiced viewpoint on the state of the economy. 

These sentiments emanated from IRI’s MarketPulse survey for first quarter 2013, revealing a drastic rebound in shopper sentiment resulting from a more positive consumer outlook on their household finances. These results represent a dramatic shift from fourth-quarter 2012, when shopper sentiment dropped to its lowest point since 2011.

According to IRI’s Shopper Sentiment Index, shoppers felt pessimistic about their financial health just a few months ago in fourth-quarter 2012. This caused IRI’s shopper sentiment to dip to 94, the lowest point since 2011. Once the calendar flipped to January, the pendulum swung as shopper sentiment rose almost 10 points to an index score of 103.

With a benchmark score of 100 based on Q1 2011 information, a Shopper Sentiment Index score of more than 100 reflects consumers who are less price driven, more loyal to favorite brands and better equipped to maintain their desired lifestyle without changes.

Along gender lines, MarketPulse found that 28% of men feel the economy has improved in the past six months, compared to 21% of females. Similarly, 29% of men expect the next six months to bring continued improvement, vs. 25% of females.

Regarding millennials, Susan Viamari, editor of IRI’s Times & Trends, told Convenience Store Products that “they are struggling to buy groceries, and that percentage has actually increased from the 2011 data we presented.

“Everyone is hooked on value, but millennials are really hooked on it. Some are having a harder time finding jobs in their respective fields, and many are paying off expensive college loans,” says Viamari.

It’s essential that retailers appeal to millennials now because of the sheer size of the demographic subset and because “they are in the process of developing their CPG shopping behavior. So winning them over is a long-term opportunity: the habits they develop now are going to be long-time habits,” says Viamari.

Some additional findings in MarketPulse include:

  • Upgraded confidence helps drive impulse purchases: As shoppers make impulsive or “splurge purchases,” these purchases are more prevalent in convenience stores;
  • Nearly half of consumers expect their financial situation to remain unchanged in the coming year; fewer are expecting improvement vs. the prior two years;
  • A broad range of CPG departments and categories are enjoying increased opportunity to serve consumers as a result of economy-driven lifestyle changes;
  • Two-thirds of consumers are carefully planning grocery-shopping trips, and many list-making tools are being embraced as part of efforts to save money. Sixty-nine percent of consumers make a shopping list prior to going to the grocery store (men make a mental list, women a paper list).