September 24, 2009, 12:00 AM

Recession sparks change in consumer attitude, new report says

As moms cut back and teens stay brand-loyal, co-shopping online for brands at a discount becomes a key strategy, Resource Interactive finds.

Moms and younger members of the millennial generation are changing their attitudes and shopping habits in response to the recession. But depending on how they handle it, that can mean opportunity rather than trouble for e-retailers, Resource Interactive president and chief experience officer Kelly Mooney told attendees in a session at the Annual Summit this week.

“The economy has prompted most consumers to rethink their spending, but this reaches further than the recession,” Mooney said. “We are seeing a cultural shift toward value and practicality.”

Mooney said the survey showed that the attitudes and behaviors of the two consumers groups have been “rewired” by the recession and that retailers need to be aware of the co-shopping experience, which in this case involves moms and teens shopping together and sharing ideas on what to buy.

Specifically, moms are trading down to rein in household spending, but teens are proving much less likely to compromise on their favorite brands. According to the research findings, “Teens look to mom as the guru of bargain shopping for help locating favorite brands at a discount.”

In other findings providing a snapshot of changes in consumer attitude and behavior, the research determined that the recession is forcing the second-wave millennial generation to grow up faster, displacing self-centered worries, while moms view the recession as an opportunity to reset family values.

The research found moms are cutting back on spending, whether or not they have actually experienced a loss of income or net worth. Moms are moving from “conspicuous consumption” to “conspicuous curtailing,” the research found.

“What the recession requires is a reevaluation of marketing truisms about consumer behavior,” Mooney said. “Knowing your consumer has never been more important.”

Resource Interactive’s research was conducted in partnership with, which is the online retailing unit of the industry trade group National Retail Federation; Sterling Commerce Inc., an e-commerce and supply chain technology subsidiary of AT&T; Inc.; BIGresearch LLC, a unit of Prosper International; Expo TV, an online source of customer-generated reviews recorded on video; and researchers Harris Interactive Inc.

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