Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Survey reveals that 16% of consumers cancelled their newspapers due to recession, trends across age groups

The long recession has impacted consumers in many ways, according to a Harris Poll released last week. Well more than half of Americans polled say they are purchasing more generic brands (61%), and almost half are "brown bagging" for lunch (48%).

But only 16 percent of those surveyed said they had cancelled the paper. Only canceling their cell phone service (14%) or going to work via mass transit or carpool (13%) was lower than eliminating their newspaper subscription, according to the Harris Poll.

Magazine subscriptions, on the other hand, appear more vulnerable in today's economy. Thirty percent of respondents said this was one area where they are cutting back. And the older the consumer is, the more they are willing to forego their magazine subscriptions.

Newspapers, however, do not show much variation by age group in the willingness of the consumer to cancel their subscriptions -- 15% for 'Echo Boomers' (18-34 years of age) and the same for mature adults (66 years old and older).

Harris also released their 2011 Harris Poll EquiTrend survey of brands last week. (PDF link here) The survey measures consumer sentiment towards brand names.

“As consumers continue to look for ways to reduce their budgets, having a brand that consumers trust and respect plays a large role in keeping consumers loyal,” said Jeni Lee Chapman, Executive Vice President for Brand Research at Harris Interactive. “Consumers continue to be more selective about what they purchase, but those companies with high brand equity are able to avoid switching behaviors of those brands that lack brand equity.”

The results for computers were bizarre, however. HP took the number one spot, but Apple was not listed as a brand. Instead, "iPod", "MacBook" and "iMac" were listed separately -- with iPod, not even a computer, coming in second. iPad was not included in the survey.

The "winner" of each category is recognized as a "brand of the year" which may account for the strange way some of the categories were organized, and calls into question whether this is a true survey or a promotional gimmick.

For the record, National Geographic was listed first for magazines, with Real Simple second. Newspapers USA Today and the Wall Street Journal did not rank "At or Above Industry Equity Scores", possibly because they are not magazines (!). There was no newspaper category.