Consumers to shop smart and save up in 2011

LONDON, Oct 27 (Reuters Life!) - Consumers still reeling from the global economic crisis will shop for bargains, buy online for deals and convenience, and plan to work beyond retirement age and boost savings in 2011, global market research firm Mintel said on Wednesday.

A woman carries a shopping bag in New York October 14, 2010. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Mintel offered nine predictions about consumer behaviour in Britain and America over the coming year from “rainy day” savings and smartphone usage to gender roles at work and home as well as the struggle between indulgence and obesity in its “Consumer Trends for 2011” report.

It said that online buying will increase, that students will weigh the cost of higher education against earning prospects and that employees will strive for education and learning as part of their corporate benefits.

Service providers and retailers, it added, should re-think their offerings for working women.

“These consumer trends for 2011 are a legacy created by economics, but now gathering their own momentum and are set to influence the global consumer mindset for a long time to come,” said Mintel Global Trends Analyst Alexandra Smith in a statement.

Under headings such as “Prepare for the Worst”, “Garden State” and “The Big Issue,” Mintel demonstrated that a renewed emphasis on prevention will drive consumers to think defensively about all aspects of money in their lives, including where they get their food from, what’s in it and how much of it they eat.

“In the UK, 43 percent of consumers say ‘trying to add to my rainy day savings/emergency fund’ is a priority for this year, up 15 percent from last year,” the report said. “In the US, a third of consumers say they’re using debit rather than credit, and debit transactions are forecast to rise nearly 60 percent between 2000 and 2010.”

Under the heading “Garden State,” Mintel said a growing love of gardening and a desire for fresh organic produce among modern city dwellers will drive seed sales to grow-your-own buffs.

In the United States, 26 percent of internet users bought vegetable seeds in past year, 19 percent bought vegetable/flower garden fertilizer and 27 percent like to grow vegetables at home, the report said.

One in five British consumers grow their own fruit and vegetables and the waiting list for allotments in Britain has grown 20 percent in 2010, Mintel said.

“In 2011, rural tourism, working farm holidays and garden leisure may benefit -- while rising food and commodity prices may see a boost for seed sales,” the report added.

It said women are earning and learning more than men, creating new gender roles in business and consumerism, where age is no longer an easy marker for lifestage in 2011.

Opportunities lie for brands to focus less on the year the female consumer was born, and more on where she’s at with her life now, the report said.

More U.S. men (32 percent) reported in 2010 that they were the sole cleaner in their household when compared with 27 percent in 2008 and in Britain more women than men researched financial products online.

People are also working beyond retirement -- either due to financial need or because they have grown attached to a lifestyle of leisure and pleasure, the report said.

Editing by Steve Addison