Another round of mixed economic signals

In less than five minutes of reading time we’ll give you all the data and context you need to get you up to speed on Ipsos’ latest wave of the Consumer Tracker.

The author(s)
  • Matt Carmichael What the Future editor and head of the Ipsos Trends & Foresight Lab
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See the full data and methodology.

Here are some quick, miscellaneous findings before we get started:

  • Remember COVID? Cases, hospitalizations and deaths are rising nationwide. Meanwhile, mask wearing has fallen off dramatically. When we last asked in January, about half of Americans said they were rarely or never wearing masks. Now that’s jumped to 72% and only 13% say they wear masks indoors, split between “always” or “often.”
  • Trust in AI-created content like TV ads, content from brands or influencers and online reviews is still low, unchanged since earlier this year.

FOR MUCH MORE ON AI, SEE OUR NEW IPSOS TOP TOPIC PAGE.

A tiny sign of hope in investors

Why we asked: Each wave we try to look back at a topic from the same wave the previous year. Also, it’s been a bouncy time in the economy, with indicators seemingly all over the place. So how are we feeling as investors?

What we found: There was a slight shift in the numbers vs. a year ago. People were more likely to say they had shifted their investments because they think prices will rise in the future (22% vs. 16%). People were less likely to say they made no changes to their portfolios (42% vs. 36%).

A tiny sign of hope in investors

The Ipsos Care-o-Meter (Week of June 23, 2023)

Why we asked: How much do you know about a series of in-the-news events, and how much do you care about them? We explore the relationship between the two in each week’s Care-o-Meter. Check out the new Care-o-Meter page for the full analysis.

The Ipsos Care-o-Meter (Week of August 14)

People are feeling higher prices again

Why we asked: Inflation is down, mostly, as we know. But that doesn’t mean prices have dropped significantly for a lot of items. Gas prices are climbing again. How are people feeling?

What we found: Generally, people feel like prices have risen since the start of the year on a basket of goods, including meat, produce, groceries overall, gas and electricity. More people say that now than earlier this summer. And more people generally say this compared with last September. The biggest jumps are in gasoline and electric prices. Fewer said prices were rising on those items in June, with big jumps agreeing now.

People are feeling higher prices again

HOWEVER, we seem to be weathering inflation a little better

Why we asked: If prices are rising, we wondered how we were faring in terms of day-to-day impacts vs. 2022.

What we found: As with the investor data, there seems to be a little bit of good news. While people do report that prices are rising, those prices are impacting people a little less. Fewer say they haven’t been able to afford gas, or their usual groceries, or have gotten a past-due notice for a bill they couldn’t pay. More report having taken a vacation. This is in line with previous data that shows we seem to be settling into higher prices. (At least until they go even higher.)

People seem to be weather inflation slightly better

FOR MORE ON INFLATION AND THE ECONOMY, SEE OUR NEW IPSOS TOP TOPIC PAGE.

Reasons why we buy premium food or beverage products vary widely…

Why we asked: We wondered: Beyond inflation, what would cause us to voluntarily pay higher prices for something?

What we found: When asked about a number of reasons people might buy a premium product, people’s interest varied. Packaging-related reasons were seen as less of a driver than product-related reasons like better taste or a healthier option. Buying from a trusted brand was also seen as a key reason to upgrade.

Reasons why we buy premium products varies widely...

… as do the products we want to pay premium prices for

Why we asked: Ok, so what kinds of things are we willing to upgrade?

What we found: We want better steaks. Or whatever meat you prefer. Pork? Chicken? Bison? Regardless, 80% said they were willing to upgrade their meat. Also, staples like bread (67%), coffee at home and milk (both 59%), and gas (55%). Beer, wine and spirits, less so. Only about one in three adults over 21 were willing to pay a premium for better quality products. About half said they would, however, buy premium food for their pets.

...as does the kind of products we want to pay premium prices for

Signals

Here’s what we’re reading this week that has us thinking about the future, “they blinded me to science” edition:

  • NIH self-censoring? (via CBS)
  • Research faked at Harvard and Stanford (via NYT)
  • Americans are tapping their 401Ks at an alarming rate (via CNN)
  • Update: No, we don’t get room temp super conductor (via Science)
  • Women’s drinking problems now on par with men’s (via WSJ)

For complete toplines for all waves, please see the full data and methodology.

The author(s)
  • Matt Carmichael What the Future editor and head of the Ipsos Trends & Foresight Lab

Consumer & Shopper