Insights: Product Usage
GfK MRI measures product usage and purchase behavior for over 6,000 brands in 550 categories.  Below are just a few examples of the consumer insights available from this enormous databank.
Gluten-Free Consumers More Likely To Be Women And Seniors
The gluten-free industry is growing and that may be due not only to Celiac disease sufferers, but also to those Americans who are choosing to follow a gluten free diet in order to lose weight.

What do we know about consumers of products labeled gluten-free?  They are more likely to live in the North East and West regions, as evidenced by indices of 113 and 120 respectively. We know that women and seniors are also more apt to purchase this type of food and that people who buy gluten-free products tend to exercise more than the rest of the population. They prefer alternative medicine to traditional medical practices and they think herbal supplements are effective, according to GfK MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer®, Spring 2012.


One Quarter of Americans Travel to Foreign Countries, Majority for Vacation/Honeymoon
Travel outside the contiguous United States is a popular pastime for many Americans, evidenced by the fact that one out of every 4 adults has taken a foreign trip (including Alaska and Hawaii) in the last three years.  And 73% of them, or 41.1 million, have done so for a vacation or honeymoon trip.

Not surprisingly, the favorite activity while on these trips is sightseeing (65.6%), followed by shopping (50.7%), lying on the beach (49.7%) and dining out at fine restaurants (47.7%).  This segment of travelers has a desire to experience something different from their lives here in America, as 36% agree completely that “traveling to foreign places is a great way for me to learn about other cultures” along with the 31% who “prefer traveling to places I’ve never been”.

But one’s preferred destinations will vary by age, as seen below. The 18-34 year olds are more likely than other age segments to prefer Jamaica and Spain/Portugal, while those 35-49 are more apt to be traveling to India and Central America.  And finally, compared to the younger age groups, those 50 and older are more likely to be found in Alaska and Puerto Rico.

Lottery Players More Likely to be Casino Gamblers
One-third of all Americans 18 and older have bought at least one lottery ticket in the last 12 months.  And of those purchasers, 21% have played 10 or more times in the last 30 days, clearly believing you have to be “in it to win it.”  Those most likely to be heavy lottery players are male, Northeasterners, Blacks/African Americans, and Baby Boomers.

Players hoping to win it big do not limit themselves to just the lottery; with an index of 183 compared to the total U.S. they are almost twice as likely to be casino gamblers as well.  But apparently a big windfall would not change their lives much as more than half (58%) of employed lottery players agree that “I would continue working even if I won the lottery.”
GPS/Navigation Device Usage Varies by Age and Region
It's hard to find your way in this world... if you can't find your way around.  GPS/Navigation devices have had a great impact in helping us to be where we need to be, when we need to be there.  More than half of all adult Americans (55%) own some kind of GPS/Navigation device.  These include GPS/Navigation systems built into their cars, portable GPS devices (e.g. Garmin, TomTom, etc), and most recently, GPS/Navigation features on their Cell Phones.  With all of these options to help us get around, just what, who, and perhaps more relevant to the topic, where are these devices being used?

Looking at these 55% of Americans who own GPS/Navigation devices, we find that there are some differences as to which devices are owned.  Among owners of GPS/Navigation devices, 17% own a device that is built into their cars standard, while 55% own a portable GPS/Navigation device.  The majority of GPS/Navigation devices are Cell phones, at 62% of device ownership.  One could infer from this data that portability and convenience/flexibility are a higher premium than the luxury of having the device built into your vehicle.

There appears to be a substantial difference between the age groups in determining what the favored GPS/Navigation device is.  To illustrate this point, one must only look at both ends of the demographic age spectrum.  Looking at 18-24 year olds compared against the average American, we find that they are less likely to own a car with a built in GPS or to own a portable GPS device, but they are more likely to own a cell phone with GPS/Navigation feature, and to have used that feature in the last 30 days.  On the corollary side, with the 65+ year olds, we find the opposite to be true.  They are more likely on average to own a car with built in GPS and to own a portable GPS device, but are less likely to own a cell phone with GPS/Navigation feature or to have used that feature in the last 30 days.  This shows us that multi-functionality and convenience is preferred amongst younger Americans, while the comfort and luxury of having a built-in device is preferable to older Americans.

Interestingly enough, a respondents’ geographical location seems to have an impact on how they prefer to navigate themselves around in space.  In the 4 major census regions, we find that in the middle portions of the country (South and Midwest), people seem to use cell phones and portable GPS devices very close to the national average.  But, when we look at both the West and North East, we find a different story.  It appears that in the West, they are more likely to own a cell phone that has a GPS/Navigation feature and to have used that feature in the last 30 days, but are less likely to own a portable GPS device.  The opposite of this is found in the North East, where they are less likely to own a cell phone that has a GPS/Navigation feature and to have used that feature in the last 30 days, but are more likely to own a portable GPS device.  It appears that people in the West seem to prefer multi-tasking ability with their devices, versus the East, which seems to prefer having a dedicated GPS device with more travel specific features. This could be due in part to the established car culture in the west, with wider, more open and designed roads, versus the higher population densities in the East, with roads that are less intuitive and more consolidated/intricate.

Americans Who Use Housekeeping Services Vary by Region and Age
One out of every ten adults has paid someone else to clean their home in the last year, with 9.5% employing a maid or housekeeper and 2.7% using a professional cleaning service.  And it’s not surprising that those employing others in this capacity are 17% more likely than the average American to agree completely that “I enjoy showing off my home to guests”.  Twenty seven percent of adults spend 9 or more hours per week doing housework, but only 21% of those employing either a maid or cleaning service spend this much of their own time doing so.

In addition to the obvious income factor, age and race are significant demographics.  Asians are 19% more apt to hire a maid and those 55-64 and 65 or older are 27% and 51% above the US average, respectively.  Geography certainly plays a role as well.  Those residing in the Mid Atlantic who hire a maid or housekeeper index at 117 and those in the Southwest region even higher at 125.  On the other hand, East Central residents are apparently more inclined to do their own cleaning.

Top Online Shopping Websites Attract Consumers with Varied Buying Styles
Online shopping continues to grow in popularity, with some of the top destinations being,,, and  In fact, one-third of the adult population has visited one or more of these five websites in the last 30 days. 

The sites don’t necessarily attract the same consumers, however.  While the majority of them have greater appeal for women, eBay is more likely to be visited by men, indexing at 118 compared to the total U.S.  And with an index of 165, 18-34 year old males is the most likely age segment to be found scrolling the site.  Groupon has the most upscale profile, with indexes above 200 for college graduates, household income $150,000 or more and professional occupations.

The Buying Styles Segmentation, which divides the population into five groups based on shopping attitudes, provides additional differentiation among the shopping sites.  Penny Pinchers, those shoppers who value saving money above all else, are most likely to be using  Buyers of the Best instead focus on quality no matter the cost, with users of Groupon, followed by Amazon, most likely to be in this segment.  All five of the sites, with the exception of eBay, index above the U.S. average for the Conscientious Consumers segment.  For these shoppers cost may be a factor in decision making but equally important will be American-made plus environmentally safe products and brand loyalty.

Click here to read more about GfK MRI's Psychographic Segmentaions.
Households with Kids Apt to Use Certain Cereal and Cookie Brands

We all know that eating breakfast is good for us.  Children who eat breakfast tend to do better in school while adults who eat this meal are more successful at maintaining weight loss.  But are households with kids eating the same brands as their childless counterparts?  While 86% of all households eat cold cereal there are distinct differences between those with and without children under 18.  Indexing at 100 for both groups, Post Raisin Bran seems to have universal appeal but the majority of brands skew towards one segment or the other.  For example, Cookie Crisp and Trix are among the top five brands in “kid” households while childless households are more likely to gravitate towards Shredded Wheat and Grape-Nuts Flakes.

A similar pattern is evident with cookies, found in 63% of U.S. households.  Childless households prefer Pecan Sandies and Archway while Chips Ahoy! and Oreo are in the kids’ top five.  A cookie brand with equal appeal is Entenmann’s.
Car Leasing and Buying Habits Vary by Age/Region
It was back in 1914 that the automobile was mass-produced and at that time only a small percentage of Americans had a car. In the course of a century that number has grown to 88% However, now one also has the option of leasing. What differences do we see between purchasers and leasers?

Data from GfK MRI’s
Survey of the American Consumer show that age and geography are discriminating factors. For example, 35-44 year olds are more likely to lease while those 55+ are buying the vehicle. We also observe that northeasterners are significantly more likely to lease compared to Americans in other regions of the country.
The people who buy a car tend to choose less expensive cars makes while leasers opt for luxury vehicles, as indicated in the below chart.



Nearly Half of Americans Use Coupons
Given the current economic climate it’s not surprising to learn that close to 50% of the adult population (113.9 million) use “cents off” coupons.  Maybe even more surprising is that number was 57% fifteen years ago.  Looking more closely at these couponers we find that males are almost as likely as females (46% vs. 53%) to be in this frugal group of consumers.  The heaviest users, the 13.5% using 25 or more in the last month, are most apt to be middle age and middle income, living anywhere except the Pacific or Southwest regions.
Eighty percent of couponers use them on food items, followed by 60% and 56%, respectively, on cleaning products and toiletries.  The most popular sources for “cents off” coupons are Sunday newspaper inserts, the mail and in/on packages.  While the Internet/email may be the least common source at 16.7%, that figure is almost three times 2004’s 5.9%.
Kids Have Influence On Their Parents’ Purchases

Today’s boys and girls can be very persuasive when it comes to getting Mom and Dad to buy them what they want, but the girls seem to have a bit more sway in most categories.  After surveying parents on their children’s influence over purchases, it’s not surprising that girls age 6-11 have more influence over their clothing purchases than boys in the same age range.  American daughters actually index at 122 for having “a lot” of influence over what clothes their parents buy for them.  These young fashionistas also index at 111 for tagging along on clothing or accessory shopping trips with their parents more than half of the time that their parents go.  Boys on the other hand index at 149 for never or almost never attending these shopping trips.

Young girls’ purchase influence extends beyond fashion.  They actually lead with “a lot” of purchase influence in most categories including DVD purchases (index 120), school supplies (index 116) and even family vacation trips (index 110).  Boys and girls meet at an index of 100 when it comes to toys and boys over index at 120 for influencing video game purchases.  Although boys skipped out on the clothes shopping trips, they index at 118 for attending most or more than half of the time when their parents are buying video games.

Smoking Cessation Methods among Smokers Vary, Cold Turkey #1
Smoking has become a faux pas in  America as more restaurants and public places prohibit smoking on their premises.  Yet, 1 in 5 Americans (21.6%, 49.4 million) age 18 or older reported having smoked one or more cigarettes in the past 12 months.  16.0% of them are heavy smokers, smoking 9 or more packs in seven days.  Heavy smokers tend to be Boomers (19.0%) and GenXers (18.8%), followed by Millennials (12.1%). 

Among those who smoke, 21.7% have tried to kick their habit.  The most common form of smoking cessation among smokers is going “cold turkey” (12%).   While 6% of smokers have taken a pill to help control cravings, 5% have used the patch and 4% of smokers have opted to chew gum to quell the urge.  Despite their efforts to quit, smokers tend to avoid doctor visits and prescription medication.  They are 17% more likely than the average adult to say they only go to the doctor when feeling very ill.  And, 14% more likely to skip a dose of prescription drug because they worry about the side effects.  
Majority of Americans take Vitamins, Marker of Healthy Living
Vitamins have become a staple in American nutrition as more than half of adults 18+ have taken a vitamin or dietary supplement in the past six months (53%, 121.7 million).  The reason for taking the vitamins/supplements?  73% say it’s for general health.  The most common vitamins, used by 13% of Americans, are multivitamins and omega 3/fish oil supplements, which promote heart health.  Calcium (12% A18+) and Vitamin D (11% A18+) ranked third and fourth most common supplements respectively among Americans. 

Multivitamin usage and healthy living appear to go hand-in-hand.  Adults 18+ who incorporate a multivitamin into their regular diet tend to lead healthier lifestyles than the average American.  According to GfK MRI’s Eating & Nutrition Consumer Segmentation,  they are 21% more likely than the average adult to be “Heedful of Wellness,” whereby they make their health a priority over convenience, start their days with a healthy breakfast, avoid junk food, watch their fat intake and plan meals in advance.  In addition, multivitamin users are more mindful of labels and menus.  They are 11% more likely to say they rely on product labels to help them make decisions when shopping and to evaluate the nutrition of menu items when they order at a restaurant. 

Exercise and regular doctor visits are also important to multivitamin users, who are 46% more likely than the average American to exercise at home or at work two or more times per week; and, 11% more likely to go to the doctor regularly for check-ups.

Furthermore, fish oil users, in addition to their tendency toward healthy lifestyle habits, eat organic foods regularly (+14%), believe herbal supplements are effective (+19%) and say they are always looking for new ways to live a healthier life (+12%).

Internet Top Source For Travel Info
Travel, whether for leisure or business purposes, is a popular activity for Americans, with 52% of adults having taken at least one domestic trip in the last 12 months while 25% have made one or more foreign trips in the last 3 years. 

Part of any trip is the exploration of options and planning prior to that trip.  In the last 12 months 31% of adults have actively looked for information regarding fares and travel arrangements and 18% have sought advice about sightseeing and activities.  For those seeking fare and travel arrangement information the top sources are primarily Internet travel sites, with Expedia being the most popular.  On the other hand, at almost 48%, word of mouth from friends and family is by far the most common source for sightseeing recommendations although the Internet and travel guidebooks and magazines play a part as well.





Majority of Adults 21+ Are Alcohol Drinkers with Varied Tastes
While 3 out of 5 adults (61%) age 21 or older drink alcoholic beverages, their drink of choice varies greatly.  The most popular beverage, at 44%, is beer or ale, followed by distilled spirits (42%) and wines (31%).  And looking more closely at those enjoying distilled spirits, we find that 33% drink mixed drinks and 17% choose “on the rocks (over ice)” while fewer than 11% opt for shots.
It’s not surprising to see that shots drinkers are more likely to be male and under 35.  Women, on the other hand, are more apt to be holding a mixed drink.  The region of the country in which one lives also impacts beverage preferences, with those in the West indexing significantly above the national average for drinking shots while Northeast residents are most likely to drink it on the rocks.  And the most popular mixed drink?  The Margarita, with 22% of all distilled spirits drinkers selecting it as their drink of choice, double the number for Rum & Coke, which comes in second.
Americans Are Loyal To The Car Brand They Like
Americans in general tend to be brand loyal, as evidenced by the 86% of adults 18+ who agree with the statement, “When I find a brand I like, I stick to it.”  Even for a high ticket item like a car, close to half (47%) claim, “I’m loyal to my vehicle brands and stick with them.”  Certain population segments are more likely than others to continue purchasing the same make of car.  Those indexing highly on automotive loyalty are:

It’s interesting to note that gender also makes a difference, with men (52%) being more loyal to their cars than women (43%).  And the gender distinctions don’t end there, as men and women tend to be brand loyal to different car manufacturers.
CPA, Computer Software and On-Site Tax Filing Used by Most Taxpayers

Tax filers have various choices when preparing their income tax returns each year.  According to GfK MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer Fall 2010 study, the most common way tax filers aged 18 or older prepared their taxes was using a CPA or other tax professional; nearly one-third (31%) of tax filers used this method. 

Using computer software ranked second most common way to prepare taxes among tax filers with 14%.  Along with using an on-site tax preparation service like H&R Block or Jackson Hewitt, which saw a decline of 33% from Fall 2006.  Tax filers preparing taxes manually and by a friend or family member decreased 8% and 38% respectively from Fall 2006.  Conversely, using an Internet/online tax preparation program or service increased 67% among tax filers since Fall 2006.
Teen Boys More Apt For "Serious Gaming"
The age old theory that male adolescents gravitate toward video games, while females prefer more “feminine” pastimes, now has empirical evidence. Looking at the teen video game market, 61% are males and 39% are females. While the gender split among “Gamers” seems somewhat intuitive, the male skew is more prominent when “Serious Gamers” are examined.  Of intensive players, categorized by those who have played 9+ hours within the last 7 days, 77% are males and a starkly low 23% are females, with respective indices of 150 and 47.

Although much of the typical video game players’ demographics match traditional expectations, these individuals are surprisingly dynamic and multifaceted! They find time to master the virtual world of video games, while also honing athletic and other skills. For example, “Serious Gamers” are 16% more likely than the average American teenage male to have played basketball and also to have played board/card games in the last 12 months. Additionally, they prove their interest in music, as “Serious Gamers” are 22% more likely to have played a musical instrument in the last 12 months.  Lastly, they are 25% more likely to have rented 5+ DVDs in the last month.

In sum, don’t underestimate a video game wiz—you never know what other tricks and skills are up his sleeve!




Old Habits Die Hard: Paying Bills By Mail Prevails
Paying bills is easier than ever with new mobile banking options offered by numerous banks on many cellular phones.  Despite the convenience of mobile banking, however, the traditional way of paying bills by mail remains the most common. More than half (52%) of Americans 18+ mailed out their bills in the past year, followed by 36% of adults who opted to pay their bills on the Internet/online, and one-third of adults who relied on the personal interaction of paying their bills in person.

Only 6% of adults are paying bills using their mobile phone, but this is likely to increase as more Americans are updating their mobile devices and embracing digital advancements.  Technologically-inclined Millennials (+71%) and GenXers (+12%) are the most likely generations to pay their bills using their mobile phone, while Boomers (-26%) and Early Boomers (-58%) are least likely to bank using their cellular device.

What Kind Of Consumers Would Verizon Get With The iPhone?

While there might be some things in life that take a long time to wait for—say, Halley’s Comet or Godot—an iPhone that runs on the Verizon Wireless network is high on the list in the minds of many consumers. If recent news reports are accurate, Apple is preparing a version of its iPhone that Verizon will sell early next year. So what exactly does Verizon have to look forward to once iPhone aficionados are able to switch from the AT&T network or take the plunge and finally purchase one of the beloved Apple touch-screen handsets?

From a demographics standpoint, there isn’t a huge difference between current iPhone users and U.S. adults currently on the Verizon network. In terms of sheer numbers, only about 5% of adults own an iPhone, compared with the 26% of all adults who are Verizon Wireless subscribers, according to the most recent data from consumer research firm GfK MRI. The main difference among users is that the iPhone skews much younger than the typical Verizon subscriber. Baby Boomers (folks born between 1946 and 1964) in particular are less likely to own an iPhone. With the iPhone, 19.4% of owners are in the low-end adult bracket (18-24), compared with 11.6% of Verizon subscribers. At the very high end (65+), you’ll find a miniscule 2.8% of iPhone owners versus 14.2% of Verizon subscribers.

When it comes to education, both iPhone owners and Verizon subscribers are much more likely to be college educated (Bachelor or Masters degrees) than the average adult, although iPhoners are 69% more likely than the average adult to hold a Bachelor’s degree compared with 25% for Verizon customers. As for a Master’s degree, iPhone users are 52% more likely to have earned one than the average adult vs. 40% for Verizon.

Both iPhone owners and Verizon subscribers over-index for employment positions with the title of “manager.” iPhone owners skew toward higher income brackets ($75,000+ and six-figure salaries).  All in all, an iPhone suited for Verizon’s network is likely to attract younger and more affluent users, based on current demographics.
Read more brand-specific insights in Inside Brands by GfK MRI.
Source: GfK MRI Survey of the American Consumer, Spring 2010
People Who Recycle Are More Likely to Live a "Green" Lifestyle
With the increased attention on the importance of preserving the environment and going “green,” two thirds (68%) of the American adult population is helping the cause by having recycled in the last 30 days.  Education plays a role, with recyclers tending to be college graduates.  Recyclers are also 14% more likely to live either in the northeast or pacific coast while those in the south or middle of the country index at 91. 

People who recycle are 22% more apt to take their dedication to the environment even further by having used any “green” product in the last 6 months.  Energy efficient light bulbs top the list with recyclers being 29% more likely to use them.  Recyclers are also more conscious of the environment when renovating their homes.  In fact they are 19% more likely to have used “green” products in the last 6 months for home improvement or remodeling.
Americans’ style of dress is now significantly less formal.  This is not the result of the most recent economic downturn.  The purchase of many apparel items began its descent several years ago with both men and women having changed their mode of dressing long before 2008.

Using the year 2000 as a benchmark (index of 100) we see that women’s purchase of dressier items has plummeted.  For example, the incidence of skirt suits and pant suits decreased to indices of 39 and 56, respectively, while pantyhose dropped to an index of 41.  This same pattern occurs with men for suits, sports jackets and ties.

On the other end of the spectrum, jeans, whether designer or not, are now bought by a larger percentage of men and women than a decade ago.  The only “dress” item to have consistently increased for women is that of dress slacks.  The dress itself seems to be making a comeback, with purchase beginning to climb since 2006, and for 18-34 year old females the percentage now buying dresses is even greater than ten years ago.  Within men’s apparel the dress shirt may be the first dressier item to show signs of life; having dipped in the course of the last decade, it is now on par with 2000.


Price Important To Grocery Store Loyalty Card Holders
A third (33.8%) of principal shoppers has used grocery store loyalty cards in the past 30 days. These shoppers tend to be higher educated and more affluent. They are also heavier coupon users despite having higher incomes.

While grocery store loyalty card holders are just as likely as total principal shoppers to agree that price is very important, they are not looking for just any bargain; they are using coupons wisely. These card holders are 12% more likely to use coupons on items they typically buy, as compared to total principal shoppers.
iTunes Is The Preferred Music Retailer
It’s not surprising that the most popular point-of-sale for music and other audio is iTunes, with one-third of all such purchasers using this venue to buy music at some time in the last six months.  Second and third most favored are discount department stores and other Internet/online sites, at 25% and 21% respectively.

Those consumers buying at a brick and mortar discount department store are more likely to be 35-49 year olds or age 50+ while the iTunes or other Internet/online purchaser falls into the 18-34 age group.

In addition, the type of music bought varies significantly depending on the generation of the purchaser.  For example, compared to all music buyers, the younger age group prefers rap while 35-49 year olds select 80s pop music and the 50 or older crowd gravitates to light classical.
Source: GfK MRI Survey of the American Consumer, Fall 2009
"Organic" Consumers Are Also Health-Focused Consumers 
More Americans are getting healthy and going organic with 44 million (20%) American adults using organic food in the past 6 months, a 50% increase from 2008.  85% of these organic eaters are more likely to try to eat healthy and pay attention to nutrition.  They are also more likely to exercise regularly and cook their own meals. 

In addition, people who use organic food tend to experiment with new products as 83% say they are always looking for new ways to live a healthier life, and 79% say they enjoy trying different types of food.
Source: GfK MRI Survey of the American Consumer, Fall 2009
GPS Suits Consumers' Lifestyles
Portable GPS navigation devices have become an increasingly popular purchase, with ownership now at 23% of adults.  The most distinguishing demographic characteristic of owners is income, as those with an individual employment income of $200,000+ are twice as likely to own one, and those with a household income of $200,000 or more index at 171.  

These GPS owners are also very apt to own items or pursue activities that may be related to the use of their navigation device, such as ownership of motor homes, ATV/UTV vehicles, campers and bicycles.  In addition, it would appear that GPS owners are attracted to a wide variety of other electronic or household gadgets.  Products that index more than 50% higher than the U.S. average include the camcorder, espresso/cappuccino maker, electric coffee grinder and all-in-one printer with copier, fax and scanner.

Like Adults, Kids Spend Their Money In Various Ways
For children 6-11 years old the three primary sources of income are:
  • 64% receive money as a gift, such as birthday money
  • 52% do chores at home
  • 41% get an allowance

At 53%, the top category in which kids spend most of their own money is food and beverages, including snacks and candy.  However, other categories include:

  • Toys and games (31%), with 6-7 year olds indexing the highest
  • Video games (22%), with boys far outpacing girls
  • Clothes (14%), with girls, especially 10-11 year olds, indexing very highly


Hotel Rewards Programs Attract Brand-Loyal Consumers
Hotel rewards program members travel frequently and talk a lot about it: members are three times as likely to be Vacation Travel Influentials as the average American.
Nearly half of these program members fall into the “I’m My Own Travel Agent” segment. This segment is made up of consumers who prefer making their own travel plans on the Internet to seeking the advice of a travel agent.
62% of hotel rewards program members are employed full time, and they are more passionate about their jobs than the average American. 
Finally, hotel rewards program members are more likely than the average American to be loyal customers.



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