Empathica Inc., a leading provider of Customer Experience Management (CEM) solutions to some of the world’s most respected brands, announced yesterday that its survey of more than 7,200 American consumers indicates that women are more frugal in a down economy.

While overall spending was down, with only 5 percent of survey participants spending more in 2009 compared to 2008, results showed that women (72 percent) moderately to significantly cut spending to a greater extent than men (62 percent).

In fact, out of 15 industry sectors, only four were unaffected by gender differences, noting similar levels of reduced spending at gas stations, bars, hotels, and airlines.

Restaurants, specifically, were largely impacted by gender differences. During 2009, only one in 10 men indicated they never eat out at restaurants. This compared to one in five women who say they never eat out.

“When examining consumer spending during hard economic times, retailers would be smart to note that women and men not only spend differently, but have different motivations for spending,” says Dr. Gary Edwards, EVP of client services with Empathica. “Retailers need to know their customers and how to best entice them with offers. For example, our survey indicates that women are most motivated to try a new restaurant if they have a coupon.”

The Empathica Consumer Insights survey indicated that a coupon would entice 48.3 percent of women to try a new restaurant while fewer men, 39.8 percent, would be influenced by this offer.

While women are more likely to use coupons in order to try a new restaurant, they are also slightly more forgiving of a bad restaurant experience at a familiar establishment. Eight percent of men cited a negative experience at a familiar restaurant as their top reason to try a new restaurant, yet only 4 percent of women cited the same reason.

“Knowing the demographics of your top promoters, and your top detractors, can be key in establishing a better customer experience, and ultimately catering to what the customer desires from your business,” Edwards says.

Regional Comparisons:

Regionally, in respect to the U.S. Census divisions, consumers in the West indicated a more significant financial impact as a result of economic conditions.

Percentage of those who reduced spending in 2009 compared to 2008:

In the Midwest 65 percent

In the Northeast 65 percent

In the South 68 percent

In the West 70 percent

“Consumers in the West appear to be finding it more difficult to cope in this economy,” Edwards says. “Our survey results showed that this region’s respondents appear to be more financially strapped, more keen on reducing their spending, and have an overall more pessimistic view of the future.”

Though they indicate 2009 has been rough compared to 2008, those in the West are increasing their spending at casual dining restaurants (6.1 percent) more than any other region – Midwest (3.1 percent), Northeast (3.4 percent), South (4.3 percent) – and cutting back with pharmaceutical purchases.

Percentage of those who said they spent less on pharmacy in 2009

In the Midwest 18.8 percent

In the Northeast 19.0 percent

In the South 19.0 percent

In the West 23.2 percent

General Economic Sentiments

The overall sectors most impacted by a reduction in spending were hotels, bars, airlines, dining establishments, electronics stores, and furniture stores. Pharmacy, supermarkets, gas stations, and other staple goods and services were least effected by those who cut back on spending. The top concerns from consumers who reduced their spending in 2009, in order:

(1) Debt

(2) Job Security

(3) Health

(4) Economy

Of those surveyed, 57 percent were optimistic about the economy, with one in three indicating they anticipate their financial situation will be somewhat to much better in the next six months.

*Aforementioned data is reported by the Empathica Consumer Insights Panel – Q1 2010, Issue 1. For more information, visit the Web site.

Finance, News