Social Media Helps Consumers Cope with Economic Downturn

July 2, 2008

This article is included in these additional categories:

Financial Services | Retail & E-Commerce | Travel & Hospitality

US consumers are going online to discuss their growing frustrations about the economic downturn as well as share money-saving tips and strategies for deferring purchases, according to (pdf) Nielsen Online.

Gas and driving strategies and grocery-shopping considerations are two of the more popular areas of social-media discussion.

Below, some of the findings issued by Nielsen Online.

Gas and Driving Costs

As gas prices increase, so does online discussion of driving. Consumers are using social media to share gas-saving tips, analyze the costs and benefits of hybrid vehicles, and research alternative modes of transportation such as motorcycles, scooters and public transit:

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“Consumers are changing their driving habits and vehicle purchase consideration sets due to rising gas prices,” said Julie Enzweiler, research director, automotive, Nielsen Online. “We have a perfect storm in the sense that consumers are actively trying to purchase smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles, but unable to sell or trade-in their current, less fuel-efficient vehicles.”

Grocery Prices and Shopping Behavior

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Concern about buying groceries costs also continues to climb. Although it has not yet reached the volume of conversation that surrounds fuel costs, online buzz is intensifying as grocery prices strain budgets.

  • Consumers are describing specific changes to the way they shop, such as using coupons and buying sale-priced items.
  • Overall discussion about buying private-label goods has not changed dramatically in recent months. However, buzz trends for milk, cheese and eggs show consumers claim they’re shifting some purchases to store brands.
  • As consumers venture online to hunt for the best deals, traffic to weekly circulars ads on retail banner websites was up 155% in May 2008 compared with May 2007.

“Shoppers are enthusiastically sharing deals online in discussion forums and on blogs, and marketers who reach these customers with relevant savings will likely engender the support of consumers looking to stretch their dollars,” said Jessica Hogue, research director, CPG, Nielsen Online.

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