Brands must understand the consumer response to continued austerity

Deborah Mattinson

Recent headlines on the economy at long last give us some reason for cheer. Yet at the party conferences this autumn, the Coalition Government parties were studiously avoiding trumpeting their success – and with good reason. Despite the fact that 46 per cent now feel optimistic about the economy – up 25 per cent since March – they also tell us that they are not yet feeling this in their own pockets.

Recent focus groups spell this out. Consumers know that they are being told that things are looking up, and yet they also know that the improvement has had little or no impact on their family finances. Some remain sceptical that it ever will. Many still struggle to get through the month and continue to worry about the cost of living – the high price of fuel and food top the list. They are also worried about what the future holds: many believe their own jobs are insecure and their children's prospects cause concern too.