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 Insights: Attitudes & Mindsets
 
Consumers with similar demographics often have quite dissimilar attitudes.  GfK MRI delivers a vast volume of consumer attitudes and opinions across a broad range of topics.  Below are just some examples of the thousands of attitudinal insights available from GfK MRI.
 
 
 
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Who Is Most Likely to Adopt a Pet in the US
 
Did you know that more than half of us own a pet?  In fact, 56% of adults share their home with at least one dog or cat. And another 11.5 million have said they are “very likely” to get one of these pets in the next 12 months. So who will be doing the adopting?
 
Age, employment, race and geographic regions appear to be good indicators. Black/African Americans are more than twice as likely to intend to adopt compared to the average adult. Part time employees are also above average, possibly because they have more time than those who work longer hours.  Southwesterners are well above the national average in their plan to get a dog or cat, yet their neighbors in the West are the least likely.
 
Studies have shown that seniors receive significant health benefits from owning a pet, including lower blood pressure, reduced stress levels and fewer doctor visits. Yet those 65+ are the least likely age group to adopt, while 18-24 year olds, on the other end of the age spectrum, are the most likely.
 
 
 
 
 
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1 in 4 Americans Follow News Regularly
 
One quarter of the adult population agrees completely that “to me, it is important to keep up-to-date with news and current affairs.”  But just who are these news consumers?  While men and women are equally likely to be part of this group, age seems to be the most significant demographic factor with those 65 and older indexing at 141.  Race plays a part as well since African Americans and Asians index at 133 and 114, respectively.  Geographically, New Englanders, at 119, are most apt to be focused on the news while those living in the East Central states are the least likely (85).

The activities and media habits of these consumers are in line with their attitude, as they are likely to be heavy users of both newspapers and prime time TV and, specifically, more likely to watch weekly news programs like Face the Nation and Meet the Press.  In addition, they are more apt to vote and work for a political party than those who don’t view keeping up with the news as important.
 
 
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Majority of Americans Say They “Always” Vote
 
With the Presidential election fast approaching, who will be found in voting booths on November 6th?  Isolating those 18 and older adults who report they “always” or “never” vote in national elections we can expect a larger percentage of self-identified Republicans and Democrats to participate in the electoral process than Independents, as noted in the below chart.
 
 
Demographically, those who always vote tend to be better educated and affluent while non-voters are likely to be younger and have larger households.  Geographically, the New England region is tops for participation while those in the Pacific and West South Central are more likely to never do so.
 
 
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Seniors’ Grocery Shopping Habits & Attitudes Vary from Those of General Population
 
When was the last time you went grocery shopping?  Was it on a weekday or weekend?  Did you take a list with you?  While everyone may shop for groceries, we don’t all shop in the same way.  The grocery shopping habits of those 65 and older are quite different from the general public and this will have implications for supermarkets and club stores as the population continues to age.
 
The most popular day for grocery shopping is Saturday or Sunday, but not if you’re age 65+; they prefer Wednesday.  And this group is much more likely to shop in the morning, rather than in the afternoon or evening and to always take along a shopping list.  Seniors do redeem coupons on these trips to the market so they are clearly interested in saving money, yet they are less likely than average to use a grocery store loyalty card.  

They also seem to have a love/hate relationship with advertising, with those 65 and older more likely to see advertising as “way too annoying” while at the same time believing advertised brands to be “better in quality.”
 

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Political Outlook Has an Effect on Attitudes Toward Environment, Arts & Culture, Religion and Personal Finance
 
Empirical evidence demonstrates that regardless of political leaning, Americans are united in the idea that all people are entitled to freedom of thought, and political ideology has no bearing on this belief. Ranging from those who self-identify as “very conservative” to those who are “very liberal”, respondents across ideologies index the same on this matter. Dissimilarly, political outlook does affect people’s attitudes about other issues such as the environment, arts and culture, religion and personal finance.

With respect to environmental issues such as global warming, very liberal individuals express strong concern as this group is 31% more likely than the average American to regard it as a “serious threat”. Additionally, very liberal people are 266% more likely than the average American to donate to an environmental cause, whereas very conservative persons are 44% less likely to do so. Contributions to arts and culture organizations experience a similar trend with very conservative individuals being 29% less likely than the average American to donate to this cause, while very liberal people are 213% more likely.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, and not surprisingly so, very conservative persons are more likely than the very liberal to contribute to religious causes. Very conservatives are 87% more likely to contribute to religious organizations, while very liberals are 40% less likely do so. A noteworthy point from this data is that on the whole, individuals making contributions to some cause are the extremist – either very liberal or very conservative. Little philanthropic activity is seen happening on behalf of moderates.

Lastly, there is a noticeable relationship between political outlook and financial attitudes. It appears that conservative individuals are more hesitant to buy on credit, with very conservatives indexing 10% below the average American, while very liberal constituents are 19% more apt to do so.

 
 
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Millennials’ “Live For Today” Mentality Differs from that of Boomers
 
It’s often said that “age is just a number” but that number can have far-reaching implications for one’s outlook on life.  Nowhere can this be seen more clearly than in a comparison of the Boomer (b.1946-1964) and Y (b.1977-1994) generations, as these two population segments have vastly different attitudes.  Boomers, the largest group, account for 33% of all adults while the Y generation, or Millennials, as they are commonly called, is only slightly smaller, at 29%. 

Many of the “young” Millennials are not yet focused on their occupation, evidenced by their being less likely than Boomers to view their work as a career.  They have a “live for today” approach to life, agreeing that life should be as much fun as possible and also that you are better off having what you want now as you never know what tomorrow brings.  In addition, this cohort is more apt to be risk takers than their older counterpart.

Boomers, on the other hand, are more religious or spiritual than the Millennials as well as more civic-minded, as seen by their participation in elections and other politically-based activities.  However, despite their lesser involvement in the political process and their live-for-today approach to life, Millennials are more likely than Boomers to be optimistic about their financial future.  Their youth may have sheltered them somewhat while the older generation has become more jaded and skeptical over the years.

 
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Teens Prefer Celebrities in Media With Shared Ethnic Background
 
In 2011, 45% of U.S. teenagers said I “feel really good about seeing celebrities in the media that share my ethnic heritage.”  More specifically, individuals between 12-14 years of age index 18% above the national average. However, there is a noticeable decline in this statistic as teens mature. As we observe, teens between 15-17 and 18-19 years of age index 5% and 18% under the national average, respectively. This downward slope expresses that younger teens seem to be more affected by finding similarities between themselves and celebrities, which becomes less significant to them over time. Not surprisingly, African Americans and those of Hispanic/Latino origin feel particularly strongly about identifying with celebrities regarding ethnic heritage as these groups indexed 70% and 12% above the national average, respectively.

Magazines, radio and prime time television appear to be the best forms of media through which to reach these teens. This can be inferred from the fact that nearly 54% of magazine quintile I (heaviest magazine readers), 51% of radio quintile I (heaviest radio listeners), and 58% of prime time television quintile I (heaviest television watchers) feel positively about seeing celebrities of their ethnic heritage in the media. Conversely, the Internet is not as effective in reaching those who agree with this statement as the Internet quintile I (heaviest internet users) indexes 17% below the national average.
 
Click here to learn more about GfK MRI's Teenmark® study.

 
 
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Millennial & Pre-Boomer Shopping Attitudes Differ

Shopping attitudes vary by age. One of the most noticeable differences is between the youngest (Millennials) and oldest (Pre-Boomers) generations.  The two population segments appear to follow a pattern of opposites with regard to outside influences on their shopping behavior.  When asked if they agreed mostly with the statement, “I prefer to buy things my friends or neighbors would approve of,” the Millennials were 54% above the national average while the Pre-Boomers were 32% below the national average. This same pattern is evident with the statement “a celebrity endorsement may influence me to consider or buy a product.”
 
The only statement in this category of influence where these two generations are somewhat more aligned compared to the average adult is, “I often seek the advice of others before making a purchase.” Clearly, the Millennials are not as confident in their choices as the oldest generation and are more likely to be swayed by others in their purchase decisions.

We observe the same generational pattern in statements about the pleasure of shopping. For example, the Pre-Boomers index below average for “shopping is a great way to relax” and well above average for “shopping used to be more enjoyable.” Again, the Millennials are diametrical opposites.   And finally, and maybe surprisingly, the older generation is more tempted by immediate gratification, agreeing that they will buy on credit if they really want something.
 
 
 
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Men and Women Diet for Different Reasons
 
Today’s supermarket offers an array of food options, and with more health-minded shoppers strolling the aisles it has become easier to find products targeted to them, with labels such as gluten-free, low-cholesterol and probiotic now more common.  Items labeled as fat-free and low-fat are the products purchased most often, at 13.1% and 12.2%  respectively, followed by sugar-free, low-calorie, low-sodium, high fiber and natural/organic, all in the 9%-10% range.
 
The proliferation of these health-related products is clearly connected to the increasingly large number of adults who are controlling their diets in some way.  Whether it is for medical reasons, appearance or both, there are 82 million adults (36% of the 18+ population) paying attention to what they eat.  More women than men are doing so (43% vs. 28%) and the reasons for this diet control differ by gender.  Females are more interested in actual weight loss or maintenance while the guys are more likely to focus on cholesterol and blood sugar levels as well as physical fitness.
 
 
 
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Buying Styles Among Racial/Ethnic Groups Differ
 
Consumer shopping attitudes can significantly influence purchase decisions so it’s important for marketers to understand the mindset of their target audience. For instance, there appears to be significant attitudinal differences among different racial groups when approaching brands.

Buying brands that support social causes are particularly important to Hispanics, Asians and African Americans adults.  They are 57%, 30% and 44% more likely than the average adult, respectively, to say they expect the brands they buy to support social causes.  Hispanics are the group most likely to “often seek the advice of others before making a purchase.”  And, Blacks/African Americans place the greatest importance on brand name (+86%).

Consumers of Asian descent are 68% more likely than the average adult to prefer products that offer the latest in new technology.  On the other hand, Asians are 65% less likely to favor American products when shopping.  Non-Hispanic White adults are the only segment among Hispanics, Asians and African Americans to index above the U.S. average for agreeing that  “buying American products is important to me.”
 
 

Source: GfK MRI Survey of the American Consumer, Fall 2010
 

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Teen Girls Feel More Stressed Than Boys
 
Female teenagers as a group worry more than their male counterparts, with 57% stating they are “stressed out” all or some of the time, compared to only 40% of the guys.  The most stressful situations for girls include their appearance, health, juggling too many responsibilities and relationships with friends.

America’s teens have life goals, just as adults do, and in some cases the sexes are in agreement regarding these goals.  For example, male and female 12-19 year olds are almost equally likely to want a college education, a successful career and children.  Boys, however, see themselves headed into the corporate world or their own business while girls are more apt to desire a career in the arts and want to volunteer.


Click here to learn more about GfK MRI's Teenmark® study.
 
 
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Consumers Feel "Worse Now" Financially
 
The number of Americans who are concerned about their financial situation has changed dramatically over the last several years.  Just seven years ago a similar percent of adults stated that they/their households were financially “worse” (22%) and “better” (21%) compared to the previous year.  By the following year, through 2007, the optimists were gaining ground, with an increasing percentage now believing their fiscal condition to be better than a year ago.  In 2008, however, the percentage for better and worse outlooks once again coincided, at 25%.  And, in the last two years we have seen a dramatic shift in outlook, with only 15% of adults now thinking they are better off than a year ago, compared to the 40% who are convinced their financial state is worse.

Demographically these two population segments are quite different.  The smaller “better now” group is more likely to be age 18-34 and college educated (indexing at 139 and 115, respectively) while the “worse now” group is older, with an index of 112 for 45-64 year olds.  In addition, this segment doesn’t see their situation improving at all, as 70% of them state that financially they expect to be worse a year from now.

 
 
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Busy People Find Time To Volunteer
 
Philanthropy is a priority for many Americans.  According to recent data from GfK MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer, 40 million people aged 18 and older volunteered for a charitable organization in the past year.  Who manages to carve out the time for volunteering in today’s uber busy environment?  Surprisingly--despite their relative busy schedules, 55% of volunteers are people working full-time.   In fact, full-time workers are 16% more likely to donate their time to charity compared to the adult population as a whole.  On the other hand, their unemployed counterparts are 21% less likely and retired persons are 7% less likely to have volunteered to charity than the average adult—proving the adage “If you want a job done, give it to a busy man,” or woman!
 
Source: GfK MRI Survey of the American Consumer, Spring 2010
 
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Young Adult Women Consider Cosmetic Surgery
 
Cosmetic surgery and procedures have become increasingly popular, with more and more Americans open to the possibility.  This is evidenced by the fact that 31% of adults agree with the statement “I would consider having a cosmetic surgery or procedure to improve my appearance.”  Not surprisingly, the population segment completely ready and willing to do so is more likely to be female, indexing at 137, compared to 60 for men.  But, these women are not necessarily Boomers seeking to hold on to their youth.

Looking more closely at these women we see that demographically they are most apt to be 25-34 year old southerners.  They are careful with their appearance in a variety of ways, being heavy users of facial moisturizers and strong believers in sunscreen usage.  And their interest in improving their appearance with a cosmetic surgery or procedure correlates with their complete agreement that they “enjoy being the center of attention.”
 
Read about what Botox users have in common in GfK MRI's Inside Brands.
 
 
 
 
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Men More Satisfied Than Women With Their Outward Appearance
 
Although a similar percent of men and women agree completely that they dress more to please themselves than others (48% and 52%, respectively), there is a clear difference in the sexes with regard to self image.  For example, men are more likely than women to be content with both their overall appearance and their weight.
 
Source: GfK MRI Survey of the American Consumer, Fall 2009

Despite the above disparity, the degree of satisfaction with one’s weight follows the same pattern for both males and females as they age, with the youngest and oldest segments being more satisfied than those in middle age.  This may mean that 35-64 year olds are more likely to struggle/be concerned with their weight, yet as they age they become more self-accepting and satisfied.  And interestingly, geography plays a part as well, with women in New England (131 index) being happiest with their weight, while Southeastern men (122 index) are the most satisfied.
 
 
 
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Political Outlook Can Influence Travel Choices
 
136.4 million American adults, or 60% of the adult population, have taken a trip either within the United States in the last year or outside the country within the last 3 years.  In addition, over 12% of adults consider themselves “Very Conservative,” just over 25% consider themselves “Middle of the Road,” and just under 5% consider themselves “Very Liberal.”  With the majority of American adults travelling, coupled with the extreme diversity of their political stances, opinions and destinations vary as widely as the roads they share.

For example, those classifying themselves as “Very Conservative” are 31% more likely than the average American adult to prefer to travel domestically as compared to those who classify themselves as “Very Liberal,” who are 98% more likely to enjoy foreign travel as a means of learning about other cultures.
 
 
Source: GfK MRI Survey of the American Consumer, Fall 2009
 
 
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Hybrid Buyers Are Focused On The Environment
 
Two and a half million adults now own a hybrid vehicle.  Hybrid owners are more likely to be male, Early Baby Boomers (age 55-64), employed in professional or managerial occupations and live on the Pacific coast.  The hybrid aficionado considers himself/herself an expert on environmentally-friendly products and believes that they are more environmentally-conscious than most other people. 
 
In addition, this hybrid owner is clearly willing to put their “money where their mouth is” by agreeing that they will pay more for a product that is safe, environmentally speaking.  Hybrid owners are more likely than the average American to agree that:
 
Source: GfK MRI Survey of the American Consumer, Fall 2009
 
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Kids' Opinions Vary With Age And Gender
 
Kids’ attitudes seem to vary depending on their age and gender.  The outlook of children changes as they age, evidenced by their agreement with the below statements.  Almost half of older children are worried about the future and 1 in 4 is experiencing frequent stress, as compared to significantly lower percentages in 6-7 year olds.
 

Source: GfK MRI Kids Study, 2009
 
There are also attitudinal differences reported between boys and girls starting at an early age.  In the chart below, we see that 6-11 year old girls are much more conscious about their appearance than are boys the same age.  In addition, a larger percentage of these girls want to go to college while the boys are more interested in making big bucks. 
 

Source: GfK MRI Kids Study, 2009
 
Read more about kids' cell phone usage in GfK MRI's Press Releases.
  
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Stressed-Out Consumers Set High Goals For Themselves
 
The stresses of daily life are clearly putting a strain on many Americans--34% of American adults say they often feel like their life is slipping out of control.  Despite admitting to these feelings of instability, 80% of those Americans also say they like to give the impression that their life is under control.  
 
In addition, 71% of those Americans who say their life is slipping out of control agree they are so busy they often can’t finish everything they need to in a day.  As shown in the chart below, people who feel their life is slipping out of control are more likely to set high goals and work weekends.
 
 
Source: GfK MRI Survey of the American Consumer, Fall 2009
 

 
 

 

 
 
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