Saving – Not Spending – Makes Consumers Feel Smarter

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They don’t call it smart shopping for nothing but these days it’s not the money we spend that’s making us feel brainy – it’s the money we save. That’s what the researchers from Deloitte and The Harrison group learned. They surveyed 2,000-plus consumers and learned that four out of five say they find saving money using techniques like coupons and loyalty programs “fun.” So fun, in fact, that 93 percent don’t plan to return to their frivolous spending habits when the economy improves.

The research – which is called The New American Pantry Study (PDF) – pointed to five different, new consumer behaviors. Take a look. Join in. You may be more satisfied with how you’re using your money if you do.

Gratification management. Say good-bye to instant gratification, and hello to delay. Some 40 percent of consumers surveyed said waiting to get what you want isn’t as much of a sacrifice as it used to be. Consumers have tuned in to the fact that many things – from cuts of meat to clothing – will eventually go on sale, so they’re willing to wait for the moment when that happens. Makes sense in the kitchen (those cookies always taste better after you smell them baking!). Makes sense in the bedroom. (No further explanation needed.) Why wouldn’t it make sense here?

Private Label Experimentation. I’d never give up my Post Raisin Bran (believe me, it’s better than Kellogg’s), but the olive oil I cook with every day is Costco’s private label brand: Kirkland. Three-quarters of consumers are more willing to try private labels – it makes them feel smart – and once they do, three-quarters are buying those things again. “In part, it’s because we believe the same manufacturers are making both,” says Doug Harrison who conducted the survey. We do it selectively. Maybe you’d never give up your Oreos. Harrison’s wife is loyal to her Vanity Fair napkins. But on other products we’re trying – and we’re liking.

Cooking From Scratch. Twenty percent of consumers are abandoning expensive prepared foods and cooking from scratch. New websites like 5dollardinners.com have shown people how they can save a ton of money by making food themselves (and save even more by taking the leftovers in the next day for lunch). Personally, Ina Garten’s original Barefoot Contessa Cookbook has become my summer bible. Last week I made the potato salad, the cold sesame noodles and the beet salad with orange zest. Took 90 minutes. We ate for five days.

Make Loyalty Cards Your BFF. Sure, you’ve been friendly with your store loyalty cards for a while, but now they’re your BFFs. At least they are for 60 percent of consumers. What’s changed here is that men and kids are getting in on the action. They are sharing in the feeling of satisfaction you get when, upon checkout, you scan to the bottom of the receipt and see that – yes! – not only did you get two-for-one-blueberries and a free baguette, you’ve saved $18.71. And – double yes! – since the beginning of the year, you’ve saved $432.23.

Extreme Couponing. Finally, these folks aren’t just clipping the occasional $1 off, they’re layering manufacturer’s coupons over store coupons to squeeze out every last dollar. They’re signed on (as I am) to couponmom.com. They’re downloading coupons to their loyalty cards so they can swipe them at checkout and save more and their PDAs so there is no paper needed.

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