Michael’s Consumer Column

Savvy Shoppers

Almost three-quarters of all Americans think of themselves as “savvy shoppers,” and about half of them say that they enjoy a higher standard of living because of that.

That’s what we found in our latest survey—conducted by The Boston Consulting Group and HarrisInteractive—of almost 3,000 U.S. consumers with household incomes of $35,000 or more.

The findings of our survey confirm what we say in Treasure Hunt: today’s consumers take their shopping very seriously. Women, in particular, think of themselves as household purchasing agents, constantly on the lookout for goods that let them live better, balance their budgets, improve family life, and satisfy emotional needs.

Consuming may be serious business, but U.S. consumers also take pleasure in spending their money wisely. Of the survey respondents, 71 percent say that “it makes me happy” to purchase an item because it’s a good value and 59 percent say that "it’s exciting."

Consumers today are so expert at judging quality, making choices, and finding value that they can really stretch the purchasing power of their dollars. Nearly three-quarters of the respondents to our survey—72 percent—say that they’re in control of their finances, and 67 percent of them report that they regularly balance their budgets.

So consumers say that they are happy, financially secure, and looking forward to the future. They tell us that they believe in themselves, their families, and their dreams. Acquiring goods at the best possible price is a big part of their mission. Success is a Treasure Hunt.

In this era of smart, strategic shopping, companies need to think differently about their offerings. Specifically, they need to present their commodities as treasures—not just bargains. They have to create a regular cycle of innovation and also relentlessly drive costs down.

To the savvy shopper, the “new cheap” has to be more than just cheap. It has to be good.