You're Not Ready To Resume Your Spendthrift Ways

We keep hearing that the recession is over, but every new consumer survey seems to confirm one thing: With unemployment rates high and home values low, most consumers aren’t exactly in a rush to open their wallets again. And according to one new survey, many of you are even embarrassed about the way you used to spend, comparing those days to “some of the crazy things you did in high school or college.”

The latest surveys, from ad agency Ogilvy & Mather and consultants Booz & Co., point to long-term frugality, though not to the point of “deprivation,” according to AdWeek.

Whether the recession has technically ended or not, consumers are in no rush to loosen the tight grip they’ve had on their spending. For one thing, it’s not as though they’re necessarily hankering to do so. In the Ogilvy report (released this month, based on polling fielded in the fourth quarter of last year), 78 percent of respondents said they believe the recession “has changed their spending habits for the better.”

“They look at their old spending habits and are a bit embarrassed by their behavior, just like you may look back at some of the crazy things you did in high school or college,” says Graceann Bennett, managing partner and director of strategic planning at Ogilvy Chicago. “The new consumer is wiser and in more control, and so while consumption may never be as carefree and fun as it was before, consumers seem to like their new outlook, mindfulness and strength. They are sober and clean and not anxious to get ‘drunk’ on overconsumption anytime soon.”

The Ogilvy survey found, among other things, that 91% of consumers now shop at cheaper stores, and 90% are picking up more store-brand and generic products. Ogilvy’s Bennett also thinks consumers have begun to think twice about purchases — and not just because they want to save money.. “They see their houses filled up with the useless junk they acquired during the free-spending times of the past and are struck by how not worth it those purchases were,” she told AdWeek.

Will Traumatized Consumers Ever Recover? [AdWeek]