Consumers Brown Bagging, Drinking Tap Water, Saving Money

A new Harris Poll finds that more than half of all adults are saving money by purchasing more generic brands, while over 40 % are brown bagging more often and cutting back on visits to hairdressers and barbers. Over 30% have switched to tap water and cancelled one or more magazine subscriptions. Smaller percentages, but many millions of people, have also cut down on dry cleaning, cut back or cancelled cable television service, cancelled a newspaper subscription, stopped buying their morning coffee, changed or cancelled their cell phone service, increased their use of carpooling or mass transit and cancelled their telephone landline service.

The survey also found that there are large differences by age. The proportions of different generations making these changes vary greatly.

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,293 adults surveyed online between October 5 and 12, 2009 by Harris Interactive.

The largest proportions of all adults making these changes to save money are:

  • 64% who have been purchasing more generic brands
  • 47% who are brown bagging lunch instead of buying it
  • 43% who have been going to hairdressers or barbers less often
  • 36% who have switched to tap water and refillable bottles instead of bottled water
  • 34% who have cancelled one or more magazine subscriptions

Smaller numbers, but numbers that represent many millions of people, have also:

  • Cut back on dry cleaning (22%)
  • Cancelled or cut back their cable TV service (21%)
  • Stopped buying coffee in the morning (20%)
  • Changed or cancelled their cell phone service (15%)
  • Been carpooling or using mass transit (14%)
  • Cancelled their telephone landline service and are only using their cell phones (12%)

Analysis by age reveals some substantial differences between generations on some but not all of these actions. Echo boomers, aged 18 to 32, are more likely than Matures, aged 64 +, to brown bag, to have cancelled or cut back their cable TV services, to have cancelled their landlines, and to carpool or use mass transit. They are much less likely than Matures to have cancelled magazine subscriptions. Baby boomers are more likely than older and younger generations to be buying more generic products, to be brown bagging and to have cut back on their visits to hairdressers and barbers.

These reduced spending patterns reflect a big increase in savings, and economists have been telling us for years that we need to increase savings, notes the report. They also show that most people are taking prudent actions to protect themselves in bad economic times.

On the other hand all of these savings mean less money going to the people who produce and sell these products and services, and fewer jobs. Economists tell us that increased consumer spending is badly needed to generate economic growth.

Spending/Saving Over Past Six Months ( % of Respondents who "Have done or considered doing any of the following over the past six months in order to save money?")

 

June 2009

October 2009

 

% Have Done

% Have Considered

% Have Done

% Have Considered

Purchasing more generic brands

62%

14%

64%

13%

Brown bagging lunch instead of purchasing it

47

8

47

8

Going to the hairdresser/barber/stylist less often %

36

9

43

8

Switched to refillable water bottle instead of purchasing bottle of water

33

11

36

12

Cancelled one or more magazine subscriptions

29

7

34

6

Cut down on dry cleaning

20

4

22

4

Cancelled or cut back cable television service

19

5

21

24

Cancelled a newspaper subscription

17

23

21

9

Stopped purchasing coffee in the morning

15

9

20

5

Changed or cancelled cell phone service

14

8

15

16

Begun carpooling or using mass transit

13

17

14

9

Cancelled landline phone service and only using cell phone

11

21

12

23

Source: Harris Interactive, October 2009

 

Spending/Savings Over Past Six Months - By Generation (Base: All adults; % of Respondents who"Have done or considered doing any of the following over the past six months in order to save money?")

 

Total

Generation

 

 

Echo Boomers (18-32)

Gen. X (33-44)

Baby Boomers (45-63)

Matures (64+)

 

%

%

%

%

%

Purchasing more generic brands

64

58

62

69

67

Brown bagging lunch instead of purchasing it

47

53

52

55

15

Going to the hairdresser/barber/stylist less often

43

40

42

47

41

Switched to refillable water bottle instead of purchasing bottle of water

36

38

32

38

34

Cancelled one or more magazine subscriptions

34

21

30

41

44

Cut down on dry cleaning

22

15

18

28

29

Stopped purchasing coffee in the morning

20

21

25

21

13

Cancelled or cut back cable television service

21

23

20

23

14

Cancelled a newspaper subscription

21

12

20

24

28

Begun carpooling or using mass transit

14

24

12

13

4

Changed or cancelled cell phone service

15

12

17

16

13

Cancelled landline phone service and only using cell phone

12

15

17

10

6

Source: Harris Interactive, October 2009

To access the Harris Interactive PDF file, please go here.

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1 comment about "Consumers Brown Bagging, Drinking Tap Water, Saving Money".
  1. Brian Cody from the Cody Company , November 6, 2009 at 8:09 a.m.

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