Empathica Consumer Insights Panel Cites One-Third of U.S. Consumers Anticipate Financial Improvement in Next Six Months

Consumers remain optimistic in spite of continued financial difficulties, citing lingering concerns around economy and debt.

Click on the image above to access additional charts for Wave 2 2012 Key Trends

Toronto, Ontario, Canada – February 14, 2013 – Empathica Inc., a leading global provider of Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions to the world’s most respected multi-unit enterprises in retail, food services, banking, petro and hospitality sectors, released the results of its most recent Consumer Insights Panel. Despite 59 percent of consumers finding conditions more difficult than six months ago, Americans were nonetheless far more optimistic (33%) than pessimistic (14%) about their near term financial future six months down the road. Tracking consumers’ financial challenges, a slight decrease is evident from January 2012. Consumer hardship peaked in December of 2010 when 65 percent of consumers reported finding their financial situation more difficult than the previous six months.

“Despite a third of consumers who are optimistic about their personal financial situation, many businesses will continue to feel the impact of cautious consumer spending,” said Dr. Gary Edwards, chief customer officer at Empathica. “Brands should appeal to consumers’ sense of optimism and sell them an experience that builds their hope. While there is an ongoing temptation to focus solely on price and promotions to drive purchase behavior in a tough economy, there remains an opportunity to stand out from the competition by creating unique and differentiating customer experiences.”

Not All Optimism, Consumers Intend to Cut Spending on Non-Essential Items

While there are some pockets of optimism among US consumers, the economy and debt are still top of mind for the majority of people. Four out of five consumers indicate that the economy is one of their top three concerns, followed by 66 percent of consumers who said the same with regard to debt. As a result, consumers remain cautious on discretionary spending, with more than three in five U.S. consumers cutting costs compared to one year ago.

When looking at the next three months, consumers expect to spend more on essentials like gas (35%), pharmacy (22%) and grocery (19%). By contrast, most consumers intend to reduce spending in the short term on discretionary items.

Top Segments Where U.S. Consumers Intend to Cut Spending in the Next Three Months

  1. Electronics (62%)
  2. Furnishings (62%)
  3. Bars (58%)
  4. Fine Dining (58%)
  5. Airlines (56%)
  6. Hotels (55%)
  7. Department Stores (52%)
  8. Clothing Stores (51%)
  9. Convenience Stores (47%)
  10. Hardware (46%)
  11. Quick Service (38%)
  12. Casual Dining (36%)
  13. Pharmacy (22%)
  14. Supermarket/Grocery (15%)
  15. Gas Stations (13%)

“Pessimism is at its lowest point in almost two years. We could be at a point where consumers are just accepting of their situation, and regardless still have to spend money on essentials,” continued Edwards. “As we have seen, consumers are still feeling the pinch financially, with the hope that their situations will be better six months from now.”

For more information on the results of this study, visit http://www.empathica.com/consumer-insights/.

About the Empathica Consumer Insights Panel:

The Empathica Consumer Insights Panel serves as an authoritative voice on consumer based economic indicators; the retail, financial services and restaurant industries; consumer shopping intentions and customer satisfaction as reported by thousands of consumers in the U.S. and Canada. Results from Empathica’s Consumer Insights Panel, led by Dr. Gary Edwards and Empathica’s Consumer Insights team, are published several times a year. The results are based on outbound Internet surveys with Empathica’s growing Insights Panel, derived from more than 30 million consumer surveys per year. Results have been weighted to reflect latest Census distributions in the U.S. and in Canada, including Region, Gender, Age and Income.

Aforementioned data is reported by the Empathica Consumer Insights Panel – Wave 2 2012.

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