CHICAGO: Although US consumers are still keeping a close eye on their budgets, two-thirds (67%) feel their financial prospects will improve over the next six months and that could prompt them to spend more, a new survey has revealed.

Research firm IRI, which polled an unspecified number of shoppers for its Q1 2016 Consumer Connect report, suggested this increased confidence could encourage them to "splurge" on certain FMCG goods.

However, these consumers have specific requirements and IRI advised FMCG retailers and brands to make sure their customers receive a consistent and personalised experience.

According to the findings, more than half of US consumers (55%) say they will pay more for food and beverages that provide added benefits beyond basic nutrition, such as vitamins and minerals.

The same proportion will also pay more for household cleaners made with environmentally friendly cleaners, while 36% say they regularly buy premium quality beauty products, and 34% will pay more for environmentally friendly packaging.

The survey also explored the reasons why consumers choose to shop in specific retail channels and came up with a selection of insights.

For example, around half (48%) seek technology that makes shopping more exciting, while a third (32%) look favourably on stores that offer online purchase options with in-store pickup.

Looking at their attitudes to food and drink, the report found 59% want a good selection of prepared or easy-to-prepare meals, 53% want a good range of local or artisan products, while another 53% look for a variety of gourmet food and drinks.

Elsewhere, IRI found that the experience of the economic crash has left its mark on consumers' purchasing behaviour despite their renewed optimism.

Three-quarters (75%) report buying private-label products to save money, 60% buy in bulk to get a lower price per unit, 58% say they generally buy the lowest priced option when buying groceries, and 51% check retailers' websites to compare prices.

"Today's consumers are seasoned pros when it comes to shopping," said Susan Viamari, vice-president of thought leadership at IRI. "They've learned how to stretch a dollar by necessity and won't be giving up their conservative shopping behaviours even though they're feeling better about their financial health."

Data sourced from IRI; additional content by Warc staff