Monday, February 22, 2010

Consumers cut back, but are marketers mindful?

Are there products or services you've stopped buying? Are you cutting back a little bit here and there as you cope with the current economy?
My bet is that you are, and people who want to sell you their products and services should be paying attention.

Rick Newman, chief business correspondent for U.S. News & World Report , compiled a list of things Americans are learning to live without. That prompts me to ask "What's on your list?" (rather than one credit card company's "What's in your wallet?"). Here's part of Newman's list.

• Monthly payments — More people are paying cash and not taking on additional debt. Total credit card debt is 7 percent lower than it was last year.

• Window shopping — Folks are shopping when necessary, not as a regular part of their week.

• The latest computer technology — Consumers are deciding they don't have to own the newest, the fastest or the best. Some are even buying used computers.

• Clutter — The ability to sell your stuff online via eBay has enabled Americans to declutter their homes and make a little money, too.

• Cable television — People are buying fewer fully loaded cable packages. Alternatives such as Hulu and YouTube are factors.

• A home phone — With 1.13 billion mobile phones sold worldwide last year, many people are canceling landline service.

• Privacy — Many children of baby boomers are moving back home (I call them boomerang babies), and more singles have roommates to share expenses.

• Prepared foods — More basic cooking in the home kitchen is cutting grocery sales of higher-margin, pre-made products.

• Dining differently — Not only is the restaurant industry feeding fewer guests, but also diners are paring down their checks by sharing entrees, skipping appetizers or denying themselves desserts, and water is the beverage of choice for the newly frugal.

• Health care — Even folks with jobs and insurance are delaying physician visits and cutting back on medications. Our own survey for the blog found that more than 50 percent of moms have delayed health-care purchases for themselves and their families.

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Credit card users let upWashington Report: GFE Rules