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In many markets, consumers' worries are more intense than they were a year ago, hovering near the peak levels of 2008 to 2009. This sense of despair provides opportunities for companies able to aggressively segment their customers, deliver low-cost solutions, and provide a moment of salvation in the form of affordable luxuries.
Among the key findings of The Boston Consulting Group's 11th annual Consumer Sentiment Survey, conducted in April and May of 2012 and covering more than 22,000 consumers in 16 countries:
• Consumers blame the government for continued economic turbulence.
• Feelings of financial insecurity are intense and are increasing in most markets.
• Pessimism about the speed of economic recovery is rampant.
• One in four people, on average, in the U.S. and Europe is worried about job loss.
• Few believe that their children will live a better life-except in China and India.
• Values such as saving money and staying healthy have skyrocketed in importance, while the stated willingness to splurge on luxury items has plunged.
Interestingly, China is a relative bright spot, with consumers there feeling more optimistic about the future than their Western counterparts. But even in China, anxiety is up in certain consumer segments.
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