It takes a lot of effort every week to not make this entire email about Donald Trump and the news surrounding his administration. It’s all most people seem to care about. My hope has been to occasionally distract you with interesting but less serious insights into things like college GPAs, french fries, and fizzy water.
But this week I’m selling out. I’ve been deep in research all week about some of the more latent – but serious – ways our current socio-political-economic climate are (or will) impact consumer markets. I thought you might want to know what we’re seeing…
First, consumer confidence remained steady over the past two weeks, climbing ever-so-slightly. The growth was buoyed by consumers’ positive attitude toward their personal finances but dragged back down by their apprehension about major purchases. Still, this the first reading since November that wasn’t terribly dramatic. Maybe things will begin to settle down.
We’re entering a new era of “consumer switching,” unprecedented, at least, in the five years we’ve been studying this stuff. We run a multitude of tracking questions in our system, asking “How likely are you to switch/change [X] in the next 90 days?” The ‘X’ could be anything from banks, to insurers, to mobile carriers, or any other ubiquitous industry where customer market share is typically a zero-sum game. Generally, the rate of “very” and “somewhat” likely switchers is low and consistent over time. Our goal, typically, is simply to inform clients about their at-risk customers and identify achievable customers among their adjacent competitors.
But what we have seen in the past 120-180 days is uncharted territory. The volatility we’ve witnessed in macro-economic sentiment, compounded by the socio-political turmoil of the past year seems to be turning things on its head.
Take cable and satellite providers, for example. The percentage of U.S. adults who said they were very or somewhat likely to switch providers was roughly 16% prior to the election in November. The number jumped to 21% in the last 30 days. Who are these new switchers? They’re more likely to be Democrats, minorities, younger, and lower income.
The retail banking industry tells a similar yet completely different story. Overall, a consumer’s likelihood to switch banks in a 90-day period has remained relatively consistent, with just a 2% increase since the election. However, prior to November, the likely bank switcher was much more likely to be a Democrat. But, over the past 3 months, they’re now 47% LESS likely to be a Democrat. The likelihood of a Republican switching banks is now 27% higher.
These kinds of shifts are happening across the marketplace. It all seems to be pointing to a period of customer migration (for how long we don’t know), where the composition of those movers varies by category based on their socio-political and economic cohort. Some consumers are withdrawing from markets, others are diving in.
It should all make for an interesting 2017.
I promise to get back to more mundane and frivolous content next week.
Have an awesome weekend.