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Highlights on spending from Mintel

September 29, 2009


I had the pleasure of attending Mirren’s new business workshop in NY last week. One highlight was the presentation on latest shopping trends from Mintel’s Krista Faron. The prognosis: Encouraging, especially for any products that can be enjoyed at home, and for high-quality, small indulgences.

Glimpses of improvement
Krista shared that the Consumer Confidence Index, which is a barometer of the “collective cultural psyche,” is continuing to trend upwards after bottoming out in February. However, unemployment is still high; a full economic rebound won’t happen until unemployment goes down, which is not expected until next year.

Mintel has identified an interesting and under-served segment: The “Under-Employed.” Of those 90% of Americans still employed, a third of full-time workers have taken a cut in hours or income, and over 40% of part-timers have lost work hours.

There’s no place like home
Despite these conditions, 70% of Americans are spending the same or more on home food than last year, because they’re eating at home more than ever. This means spreading the food budget farther – leading to a more engaged and experimental consumer. With this comes jumps in sales, and loyalty to private label brands as well as basics like Spam and Macaroni and Cheese.

This spend-“at-home” phenomenon is also associated with downward trends in eating at restaurants, traveling for vacations, and entertainment outside of the home. It also explains the staggering data that shows 34% of Americans are thinking about buying a flat-screen TV by the end of the year, as well as the positive trends in “simple” home improvement like painting and gardening.

Great brand value prevails
Mintel shared some great trend-busting brands that have thrived despite the marketplace, thanks to a focus on a quality product and experience at a great value. Terrific examples are Panera Bread, JetBlue and Old Navy. Good to see the principles of great product at a fair price can still prevail.