The recession has redefined the UK consumer's spending habits to such an extent that shopping behaviour has changed significantly since one year ago, according to a study by Acxiom, which found that those consumers who are worst off now are not necessarily those who are cutting back the most.
At the same time, the study noted that consumers who describe them selves as "better off" in recent months are now always the ones with the most buoyant purchasing patterns.
From its survey of over 82,000 consumers, the company has identified seven new consumer profiles, falling within three main groups:
- 'Secure and better off' (37.9%);
- 'Status quo' (43.3%);
- 'Worse off and worried' (18.7%).
"It's not all bad news, though. As a result of falling interest rates, some consumers are now better off than they were before. But for others, job security is crucial and worries about the future affect them, as well as having a vicarious effect on those around them," explained Acxiom retail specialist Fiona Sweeney.
Acxiom has sub-divided consumers into seven distinct sectors, as follows:
- Cautious but confident
Part of the secure and better off group, 'cautious but confident' consumers (27.11%) tend to be affluent young families and singles who feel slightly better off but are more likely to save or pay off debt to secure the future;
- Protecting the dream
Also part of the secure and better off group, 'protecting the dream' consumers (10.88%) are highly affluent singles or professional young families who are financially savvy and always watching for a good deal. They are decreasing spend to protect their income;
- Business as usual
Part of the status quo group, 'business as usual' consumers (20.34%) are financially stable, and may not be increasing their spending but they are not cutting back either;
- Head down, fingers crossed
Also part of the status quo group, 'head down, fingers crossed' consumers (15.06%) are mostly mature couples and singles who live within their means, and neither save nor use credit;
- Up against it
The final section of the status quo group are 'up against it' consumers (7.91%), who are young families that are already struggling with life's basics, and who are very worried about job loss. They watch for every bargain and are 50% more likely than any other group to use coupons and special promotions;
- Interest rate casualties
Part of the worse off and worried group, 'interest rate casualties' (12.84%) are typically aged 55+ and have a fixed income and savings. They are feeling the falling interest rates and making cutbacks on clothing, home entertainment, and DIY;
- Life goes on
Also part of the worse off and worried group, 'life goes on' consumers (5.86%) are retired singles who have made good provision for their retirement. They are feeling worse off but are continuing to spend, and are likely to spend more on online shopping.