Women Consumers, the Economy and Rising Food Prices

Women Consumers, the Economy and Rising Food Prices

Women have long exercised great influence over household purchasing decisions. But how do women feel about the economy, and are their financial concerns affecting their shopping strategies?

Women are Less Confident in the Economy Than Men

According to Nielsen’s fourth-quarter 2013 Consumer Confidence Index, the overall global confidence level stood at 94, 6 index points below a neutral baseline of 100. But, globally and across each region, women respondents reported lower levels of confidence than men did.

Gender Divide in Consumer Confidence
Nielsen Consumer Confidence Index* – Q4 2013
  Global North America Latin America Europe Africa & Middle East Asia Pacific
Men 97 98 99 78 91 106
Women 91 92 89 68 87 104
*Consumer Confidence Index levels above and below a baseline of 100 indicate degrees of optimism and pessimism.
Source: Nielsen Global Survey, Q4 2013.

While women from Asia-Pacific markets were the most optimistic, nearly matching their male counterparts in optimism, the story is much different in markets across Europe and Latin America. In these regions, women reported confidence levels that were 10 points below men. While the gender confidence divide is less dramatic in North America and throughout Africa and the Middle East, female confidence levels still lagged those of their male counterparts in these markets.

Are Rising Prices Affecting Loyalty?

While job security and the economy are the two most pressing near-term concerns for both women and men, women have a different point of view when it comes to financial issues surrounding their food bills. More women (17%) than men (15%) are significantly concerned by rising food costs, possibly because women have traditionally been primary shoppers for food and grocery items in most households.

While the majority of both women (66%) and men (64%) look for ways to save money by adjusting their household spending, more women than men are cutting costs for groceries by switching to cheaper grocery brands. Globally, 43 percent of women say they’re switching to cheaper grocery brands, compared with 32 percent of men.

This divide is most evident in North America, where 60 percent of women report brand switching to save money on groceries—compared with just 34 percent of men.

This saving strategy, however, may not be permanent for everyone. As economic conditions improve, only about one-fourth of women (23%) who have switched to cheaper grocery brands say they will stick with cheaper brands as their financial situations improve.

In North America, the region where women brand switch as a saving strategy the most, about a third (34%) say they’ll stick with the cheaper brands, with the majority returning to their favorites as economic conditions improve.