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Economic Environment Shapes U.S. Consumer Trends

Christina Sommer |

When I sat down recently to write a paper on how consumer trends are affecting the payments business in the United States, I was surprised to learn the number one consumer trend across all segments (excluding those aged 15-17).  I asked colleagues at work and few friends to guess; most thought the number one trend was something like “the need to have everything yesterday.”  And while “At Your Fingertips” is one of the seven trends I describe in the paper, it was actually number seven in order of priority to consumers.

“Finances @ the Foundation” is the number one trend affecting consumers in the United States today. This trend, identified with the help of the GfK Roper Consulting, highlights consumers’ genuine recognition that a healthy financial underpinning is necessary to “live the dream.”  This understanding has been shaped and reinforced by the current economic situation in the United States.  Consumers have become more risk averse; “living within your means” is more en vogue today than at any time in recent memory.

Companies need to be aware that financial health is what matters most to the majority of consumers and is the lens through which they view almost everything else.  This reality shapes many of the other consumer trends that I discuss in Remaining Relevant:  Seven Consumer Trends to Watch—and Act On and is important for banks, credit unions, and even merchants to keep in mind as they plan for 2012.

Paying close attention to emerging consumer trends is no longer optional.  Companies have a choice:  Either meet changing consumer needs or face the prospect of extinction.  Technology, which is changing the way we live, can also play a role in spurring the innovations that will help organizations adapt and thrive.

Topics: Payments Strategy

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