Kellogg Shopping Index shows income, job security influence holiday spending

EVANSTON, Ill. — A new, ongoing study of consumers and their spending habits explored the trends driving holiday spending this year.

The Kellogg Shopper Index, an online survey of approximately 1,200 consumers, conducted between Oct. 26 and Nov. 16, unveiled that change in income may influence holiday spending. For example, participants who had a significant increase in their income indicated they would spend 16% more in holiday gifts versus last year, while participants who said they experienced a decrease in income plan to spend 9% less, compared with 2009.

What's more, the survey noted, those that felt very secure about their job plan to spend 10% more on holiday gifts, while those with relatively stable job security said they will spend 2% more. People whose job security has worsened, however, said they will spend 4% less this year.

Highly materialistic panelists said they would allocate 34% of their holiday gift budget on themselves and 66% spent on gifts for others. Less materialistic participants said they will spend only 17% on themselves and 83% on gifts for others, the index showed. "Materalistic" panelists were classified based on their positive response to questions about how possessions are signs of success, buying brand names and buying items to impress others, the researchers said.

"Essentially not everyone is coming back to shop," said Eric Anderson of Kellogg Center for Global Marketing Practice, which supports the Kellogg Shopper Index. "While our panelists indicate they plan to spend slightly more than last year, we see two very different psychological mindsets at play. The first set represents those likely to have foregone nice rewards over the last two years, and who now want to treat themselves or others. The second set represents those who are still very cautious but are willing to spend for the right deal."

Added Richard Wilson of the Kellogg Center for Global Marketing Practice, "From our perspective at the Center for Global Marketing Practice, further academic research and a deeper understanding of what's causing these types of consumer behaviors to manifest in the marketplace will help drive more effective practitioner marketing strategy."