HEALTH

New IRI report highlights recession-era consumers, trends

BY Michael Johnsen

CHICAGO The current recession has created a new niche of consumers identified as the “Downturn Generation” by Information Resources Inc. in a news release Monday.

This new generation of Americans is adopting practices similar to Depression-era shoppers, implemented both to weather the recession and to keep a close eye on spending long after the recession ends.

The latest IRI Point of View, “Dissecting the Downturn Generation: Recognizing and Leveraging Permanence in Today’s Transformational Economy,” highlights how shoppers are changing behaviors to adapt to the unstable economy and uncovers the new habits they intend to continue even if the economy improves. The report reveals permanently changed approaches toward important rituals, including diet, self care and home maintenance and classifies three emerging categories of shoppers, which are:

  • Optimists – believe “things will get better during the next 12 months,” are spending wisely, cutting back selectively and making sacrifices as a last resort;
  • Maintainers – agree that, “the economy won’t get worse, but it won’t get better either” and are also spending wisely, but are more aggressive about making cutbacks;
  • Pessimists – identify with the direst predictions, believing “if you think times are hard now, next year will be worse” and are cutting back wherever possible and hunting tirelessly to find deals.

“Optimists, maintainers and pessimists are each weathering the recession in unique ways, but all three groups have made obvious behavioral and attitudinal changes and many admit they intend to prolong the use of their new methods,” stated IRI Consulting and Innovation president Thom Blischok. “We believe the Downturn Generation will continue their current behavior patterns until they have regained confidence in the U.S. economy. Interestingly, shoppers looked for a return of ‘stability’ as a signal that the economy is pulling out of the recession, in particular, ‘stability’ across gas, food and energy prices, as well as home values.”

Nearly 64% of shoppers characterize their financial condition as a little or a lot worse off than last year; approximately 30% believe their finances will be a little or a lot better one year from now. As many as 70% of shoppers note they have less savings than they used to, while an equally significant 71% agree they have less total wealth.

Even though gas prices have declined as much as 50% from the highs of fall 2008, 73% of surveyed shoppers state rising gas prices “Impacted” or “Strongly Impacted” their financial situation during the past six months. In addition, 75% note rising food prices “Impacted” or “Strongly Impacted” their financial situation, even though food prices have largely leveled off or declined since summer 2008.

Shoppers’ weakened financial conditions are profoundly affecting how they shop and what they buy. More than 69% say they are more likely to look through retailer ads for deals, nearly 82% are more likely to look for sale prices once in the store and just under two-thirds of consumers say price is becoming more important than convenience in brand purchases.

“Financial pressures are causing shoppers to give up favorite brands, buy smaller quantities of preferred items or postpone non-essential purchases for entertainment in order to save money for their most important needs,” Blischok said. “Additionally, between 30% to 47% of consumers are buying less healthy products, and fewer fresh produce and organic items. This is a fundamental shift from the trends we noted before the economic downturn.”

New approaches identified include consumers turning to the plethora of information available on the Internet to help prepare for purchases, clip online coupons and research reviews, commentary and opinions on products and services before making a purchasing decision. In fact, more than 44% of shoppers are using online resources to find coupons today, and 55% of them plan to continue this practice into the future.

Low prices and sale items continue to dominate shopper decisions at stores, and consumers are increasingly collaborating with friends, family and neighbors to share information, split membership costs and divide bulk goods purchased at a lower cost. Approximately 59% visit multiple stores for the lowest prices, and 42% of those shoppers will continue to do so into the future. Almost one-third of consumers are making bulk purchases with others not in their households to secure low unit prices, and 35% of those shoppers intend to continue doing so.

Consumers are also cutting back on their healthcare costs, opting to treat themselves at home versus visiting a doctor and increasing their use of over-the-counter medications. Nearly 44% of surveyed consumers are trading their doctor for information on the Internet and half of those shoppers will use this strategy in the future.

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NCPA, Roche Diagnostic team up with new online diabetic resource

BY Jim Frederick

ALEXANDRIA, Va. In an alliance with Roche Diagnostic, the National Community Pharmacists Association is giving its independent pharmacy members a new tool to expand their presence in the crucial market for diabetic care services and supplies.

NCPA has launched a new, online resource, dubbed the “Diabetes Supply Center,” through the organization’s Pharmacist e-Link. The Web site is designed to provide pharmacists with the information needed to serve patients with diabetes more effectively and make diabetic supplies a viable part of their business, according to the group.

The site helps pharmacists navigate the regulatory process for competitive bidding, accreditation or surety bonds, NCPA noted Monday. It also provides business tools, articles catering to pharmacists, news updates, expert opinion forums and a regular newsletter.

“Many independent community pharmacies are caught between the need to serve their patients with diabetes and navigating an excessive amount of government regulation and costs if they want to continue selling medical supplies such as diabetes testing strips,” said NCPA president Holly Whitcomb Henry. “NCPA is proud to partner with Roche Diagnostic to help community pharmacies better confront all of these challenges through the wide array of information found at the Diabetes Supply Center on Pharmacist e-Link.”

Added Luc Vierstraete, Head of Roche Diagnostic Care North America, ““The role of pharmacists continues to grow and evolve and Roche recognizes their important role in the health care community.”

An American Diabetes Association study in 2007 found 17.5 million people diagnosed with diabetes in America at a cost of $174 billion. The average patient spends approximately $2,500 at community pharmacies for diabetes medications and supplies.

For more information, visit http://www.pharmacistelink.com/accu-chek/.

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Pure Biosciences’ SDC-based disinfectants meet CDC standards for swine flu care

BY Michael Johnsen

SAN DIEGO Pure Bioscience on Sunday confirmed that all EPA-registered SDC-based disinfectants, branded Axen30, meet the recommendations by the United States Centers for Disease Control for infection control for care of patients with confirmed or swine flu in both home and healthcare settings.

“Pure’s SDC-based disinfectant is effective against both human and avian influenza A, and our distributors across the nation are poised and ready to respond to the current outbreak,” stated Pure president and CEO Michael Krall. “Should the current outbreak become pandemic, Pure has the manufacturing capability to react not only to the needs in the U.S. but also abroad to supply our powerful disinfectant to governments, healthcare institutions and consumers seeking to effectively stem the spread of swine flu.”

Axen30 is sold through a variety of distributors under more than a dozen private label brands, the company stated. Pure’s SDC-based disinfectants have been registered by the EPA specifically for use on children’s toys, cribs, high chairs and other sensitive areas of the home as well as for use on hard surfaces in multitudes of environments, including hospitals, schools and offices.

Guidance published by the CDC on April 24 for infection control in healthcare settings advises that “disinfection strategies used during influenza seasons can be applied to the environmental management of swine influenza.” Additional guidance published on April 25 for infection control in the home recommends keeping “surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant according to directions on the product label.”

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