According to Survey, Massachusetts Consumers Most Optimistic About Finances; Connecticut Least

As part of Empathica’s Consumer Insights Panel, U.S. consumers reveal financial optimism as well as spending intentions across a variety of industries — ranging from grocery and gas stations, to pharmacies and electronics.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada – August 23, 2011 – Empathica Inc., a leading provider of Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions to some of the world’s most respected brands, announced results from its Consumer Insights Panel survey of more than 14,000 U.S. consumers. Findings reveal that nearly half of the consumers in Massachusetts (47.3%) and Georgia (45.4%) expect their financial situation will be improved within the next six months. In contrast, Connecticut and Wisconsin consumers are the least financially optimistic, with nearly a quarter anticipating their financial situation will be worse (24.7% and 22.3%, respectively).

“We can conclude from this survey a wide variation among U.S. consumers in terms of their optimism and spending outlook for the second half of 2011,” said Dr. Gary Edwards, Chief Customer Officer at Empathica. “Each state is dealing with unique financial issues in today’s market that ultimately influences consumer spending intentions and their retailer preferences. Retailers in Connecticut and Wisconsin, for example, will need a different approach of connecting with and retaining customers than retailers in states that are more financially optimistic. In addition to discounts, less optimistic consumers tend to seek alternative spending such as restaurant-type takeout available in grocery stores.”

Top 5 Financially Optimistic U.S. States:

  1. Massachusetts  47.3%
  2. Georgia  45.4%
  3. South Carolina  45.3%
  4. Texas  43.8%
  5. Oklahoma  42.5%

(% of consumers who expect their financial situation, within the next six months, will be better than it is today)

Top 5 Financially Pessimistic U.S. States:

  1. Connecticut  24.7%
  2. Wisconsin  22.3%
  3. Nebraska  20.6%
  4. Nevada  19.6%
  5. [Tie] Michigan and Pennsylvania  19.5%

(% of consumers who expect their financial situation, within the next six months, will be worse than it is today)

Gas and Groceries: Necessities Amid Spending Hesitations
While more than half of survey respondents expressed reduced spending intentions across a variety of industries, the vast majority of consumers indicated they will spend more or the same amount at gas stations and grocery stores/supermarkets within the next three months (87.6% and 85.5%, respectively).

“Consumers invest a lot of time and money into grocery and gas purchases,” said Brian Jones, Empathica V.P. of Consumer and Packaged Goods. “Grocers in particular have an overwhelming opportunity to learn consumer preferences, improve their in-store experience, and ultimately become the consumer’s preferred brand.” When asked specifically about their supermarket of choice, more than half of consumers reported spending more than 50% of their dollars at their primary grocery store.

In looking at grocery spending intentions across states, approximately one-fifth of consumers in Connecticut, Kentucky and North Carolina expect to spend less at grocery stores and supermarkets in the next few months. Brands like Stop & Shop, Kroger and Wal-Mart, which ranked as the primary grocer for the majority of survey respondents in these three states, must cater to a market of pessimistic grocery shoppers.

Pharmacies, casual dining restaurants and quick service/fast food restaurants represent the other highest-ranking industries in terms of consumer spending intentions for the next three months. On the other end of the spectrum, furniture stores, fine dining restaurants and electronics ranked lowest.

According to Dr. Edwards, “For larger big box retailers, this shift in spending undoubtedly means shifting product skews to the areas where cash-strapped consumers are still spending. It also means ‘packaging’ products together, like for back-to-school shopping, in a compelling way that emphasizes value to the consumer.”

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