Insights

Recession Resets Consumers’ Priorities

What does the customer want? It’s a question retailers ask themselves all the time.

According to a recent study done by the Pew Research Center, consumer needs aren’t the same as they once were. According to the study, just 42 percent of Americans say they consider a television set a necessity, down from 52 percent just last year and 64 percent in 2006. The landline telephone also saw a dip in numbers. Of those polled, 62 percent still consider the landline phone a necessity, down from 68 percent in 2009.

“It’s true that in the digital era, consumers know they can watch a lot of television programming on their computers or smartphones,” Pew said. They also can make calls from their cell phones, a belief young people especially share. Fewer than half of those in the 18-29 age range consider a landline phone a necessity, but almost 60 percent think a cell phone is a must have item.

The report also shows people consider cars, clothes dryers, microwaves, home air conditioners and home PCs as less of a necessity than years prior.

“This suggests that the psyche of the American consumer is in a much different place now than it had been in the heady days before the recession.”

Still, just because more people categorize certain goods as a luxury over a necessity doesn’t mean the products aren’t selling. Retailers can take this information and apply what they know to their future marketing strategies.