Almost two-thirds buying generics and almost half brown bagging it
The economy is turning around based on what one hears from economists and the White House.
But are most Americans behaving as if they believe things are getting better? When it
comes to small things people can do each day to save money, consumers are still acting
For example, almost two-thirds of U.S. adults (63%) say they have purchased more generic
brands in the past six months to save money while an additional 12% say they have
considered doing so.
These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,576 adults surveyed online between
January 18 and 25, 2010 by Harris Interactive.
There are other things Americans are doing or have considered doing in the past six months
to save some money:
* Almost half (45%) say they are brown bagging lunch instead of purchasing it, with 8%
having considered doing so; 34% say this is not applicable to them;
* Two in five (39%) are going to the hairdresser/barber/stylist less often and 8% have
considered doing so;
* One-third of Americans (34%) have switched to refillable water bottles instead of
purchasing bottles of water while 10% have considered doing so;
* The media is also taking a hit as 33% of U.S. adults have cancelled one of more magazine
subscriptions, one in five (19%) have cancelled a newspaper subscription and 22% have
cancelled or cut back on cable television service with an additional one in five (20%) having
considered doing so; and,
* One in five Americans say they have cut down on dry cleaning (22%) and stopped
purchasing coffee in the morning (21%).
The only thing a majority of U.S. adults say they have neither done nor considered doing is
changing or cancelling their cell phone service (52%), and only 15% have done so.
Generational differences in spending/saving
There are also some generational differences in what people are doing to save money. Gen
Xers (those aged 34-45) are more likely to brown bag lunch (56%) and cut back on hair
styling (43%). Matures (those aged 65 and older) are more likely to cancel a magazine
subscription (45%). Echo Boomers (those aged 18-33) are more likely to cancel their
landline service and only use their cell phone (20%) and to carpool or use mass transit
These may seem like small savings, but they are the things many financial planners say
people need to do more of to save money. And, it seems in these times of greater economic
hardship, Americans are finally heeding that advice.
Are these cuts temporary or will they become lifestyle changes?
Will people spend more on these items when the economy turns around?
And when will that be?
This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States January 18 to 25, 2010
among 2,576 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education,
region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with
their actual proportions in the population.
Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.
All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to
multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including
sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with
question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments.
Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words "margin of error" as they are misleading. All
that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for
pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical
because no published polls come close to this ideal.
Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate
in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the
Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive
panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.
These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public
The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion
without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.
The Harris Poll®#25, February 16, 2010
By Regina A. Corso, Director, The Harris Poll, Harris Interactive
About Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive is one of the world's leading custom market research firms, leveraging
research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable
Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies,
Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public
affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant,
and consumer package goods.
Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American, European,
and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in
delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what's next.
For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com .
16th February 2010