Guard Against Recession with Cultural Insights

Collage Group recently launched an urgent initiative into consumer attitudes and behaviors related to current events and the present economic situation. Read on for the main insights you need to know.

August 22, 2022
Jill Rosenfeld – Research Manager

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With inflation at a 40-year high, job growth increasing the likelihood of interest rate increases, and predictions of recession rampant in the media, Collage Group recently launched an urgent initiative into consumer attitudes and behaviors related to current events and the present economic situation. Our primary objective was to identify how people are currently responding, how they’re likely to react if things get worse, and where and why they’re making tradeoffs.

Fill out the form below to watch the replay and download the presentation for key insights.

Overall, we found that economic concern does differ among the segments. Hispanic and White Americans are the most likely to be very worried about what their personal finances will look like in the near future. These segments also express the greatest concern about the current and future United States economy. On the other hand, Black and Asian Americans are the least likely to say they are very worried about their financial situations six months from now, instead saying they are a little worried, or even not worried at all.

Read on for a few key insights on how different consumer segments are reacting to the current economic landscape, and then download the attached presentation and watch the video to view the full presentation.

Insight #1: Avoid Political Anxieties by Focusing on Consumers’ Practical Problems

Political affiliation was one of the strongest indicators of how survey respondents answered questions about the current United States Economy. Because of today’s highly politicized media landscape, consumers tend to frame messaging about “the economy,” “recession,” and “inflation” in political terms that you as a brand want to avoid.

Don’t play to political anxiety. Instead, focus on solving consumers’ practical problems – like paying their bills, paying down debts, and providing for their families. These concerns are universal and relevant regardless of political party or economic situation.

Insight #2: Consumers’ Economic Concerns Drive Their Everyday Purchasing Behaviors

The path people take on their way to making a purchase necessarily includes concerns about their finances. Current concerns lead to current purchasing choices about what to buy or not buy, and concern for the future drives planning for future spending. This tends to be more directed to bigger purchases that need to be planned and prepared for. Different levels of concern about finances now and in the future lead to different purchasing decisions, which we see playing out today among the different racial and ethnic segments.

Insight #3: Hispanic Consumers Are Most Concerned and Likely to Be Shifting Their Purchasing Now

Hispanic Americans are more likely than others to be making more changes to their purchasing. This behavior comes in part from the reality that Hispanic Americans’ average household incomes skew below the total population and allow for less of a financial cushion in hard times. As we’ve seen in our Hispanic Cultural Traits research, Hispanic Americans are also uniquely resilient, and they understand that shifting their purchasing behaviors is a way to adapt to the changing economic landscape.

This segment is more likely than others to be buying both fewer and cheaper items in nearly all categories, showing their willingness to both cut back and buy cheaper substitutes to make ends meet.

Insight #4: Black Americans’ Optimism Is Keeping Their Purchasing Steady

Despite having lower household incomes than other Americans, Black Americans report less worry about their finances than others, both now and in the future. This optimism is innate to the Black American segment across all areas of their lives. Here, it surfaces in the segment’s financial outlook and subsequent purchasing behaviors.

Black Americans are less likely than others to be buying fewer items across all categories, and these differences are statistically significant for apparel, skincare, and beauty / makeup. The segment is also less likely to be switching to cheaper substitutes than others, especially for groceries and home care products.

Insight #5: Asian Americans Aren’t Worried Yet, But Are Beginning to Plan for the Future

And finally, Asian Americans’ have a more nuanced approach to the current economy. They aren’t as worried as Hispanic Americans or as optimistic as Black Americans. The segment’s higher average income level leads to a feeling of security for now, but they are still preparing in case things get worse in the future. That means that they are keeping buying habits largely the same at the moment but are considering delaying major purchases in the future.

More than half of Asian Americans say they will likely delay a big-ticket purchase if their finances worsen in the next six months. This consumer segment is also significantly more likely than others to plan to find an additional job, delay home purchase or renovation, and reconsider retirement and retirement savings if their economic situation gets worse soon.

Contact us at the form below to learn more about how you can gain access to these diverse consumer insights and much more in our Cultural Intelligence Platform.

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Jill Rosenfeld

Jill Rosenfeld
Research Manager

Jill is a Research Manager on Collage Group’s Cultural Insights team focusing on the LGBTQ+ and Gender membership. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy. In her spare time, Jill enjoys exploring Washington DC’s restaurant scene and practicing yoga.

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