Over half of Americans are trading down

27 April 2009

WASHINGTON, DC: Some 57% of American consumers are looking to buy cheaper brands in order to cut costs, a trend more prevalent among women than men, according to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center.

The organisation surveyed 1,003 US adults, and found that 63% of women are either trading down or shopping more frequently at discount stores, compared with just 51% of men doing the same.

Similarly, over 60% of families with children are following such strategies in an effort to reduce their outlay during the financial downturn.

A further 28% of participants have reduced their purchases of alcohol or cigarettes, rising to 39% among those under 30 years old, but falling to 12% in older age groups.

Nearly a quarter of respondents had also opted for a less expensive pay-TV package or cancelled their subscription altogether, including 30% of under-30s, but just 17% of over-50s.

Just under a fifth of adults revealed that they have either completely dropped their mobile phone service or changed to a cheaper price tariff, with those under 30 again the most likely to have followed this course of action, at around 30%.

Owning a car was still considered a "necessity" by 88% of Americans, down by 3% on 2006, and by just 2% on a similar survey carried out in 1973.

Slightly more than half said the same for TV, a 12% decrease on 2006, reaching a low of 38% among 18–29 year olds and a high of 68% among the over-65s.

As the number assigning this status to pay-TV also declined by 10% to 23%, Pew suggests "Americans long love affair with their TV sets may be cooling."

By contrast, it argued that more high-tech devices appear more "receeion-proof" thus far, as the number of people arguing their cellphone was essential remained static at 49%.

There was a disparity by age within this total, however, as 60% of 18–29 year olds agreeed with this statement, a viewpoint declining with age to just 38% of over-65s, with the reverse trend being true of landline phone connections.

Computers were also regarded as a must-have by 50% of those surveyed, down 1% on 2006, with the number of people placing a similar value on high-speed internet connections up 2% to 31%.

Data sourced from Pew Internet; additional content by WARC staff