Everything You Need to Know About Consumers, Part II

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In Part I of this consumer factoid extravaganza, we learned all sorts of weird info about spending habits, housing costs, and family expenditures. For the sequel, we’re dealing with moms, Mexicans, McDonald’s, men’s dwindling DIY skills, the earning power of maiden names, how using a cell phone can be a sign of poverty, grandparents stealing jobs from their grandkids, and more.

Going to the mall? Don’t bring a friend. According to a new Journal of Marketing Research study, men tend to be “agency-oriented” shoppers. What that means is that when they go shopping with others, they show off their knowledge and status. And what this means in terms of actual shopping habits is that men spend more when they’re out shopping with someone else. In the study, male consumers accompanied by a friend spent 56% more than they did when shopping alone. Women, on the other hand, spent 4% more when they went shopping on their own.

If you can hold your own in the DIY department, you’re truly exceptional. An AA Home Emergency Response study shows that the number of men capable of handling home maintenance jobs has been on the decline for decades. In 1970, 71% of men had basic home DIY project skills, compared to just 44% more recently. By 2030, it’s expected that only one in five men will be able to pick up DIY skills from their fathers.

Just 45% of men have a doctor they see regularly (a.k.a., a primary care physician), per to an Esquire survey. Also, 34% of men said their most recent checkup was more than a year ago, and that’s not including the 9% who said they had no idea whatsoever when their last checkup was.


After adding up all the various tasks moms handle, Insure.com says the typical family matriarch is worth $61,436 a year.

Moms are more like than most to feel the need to cut back on spending at the same time they’re more optimistic about their finances in the future. A http://eon.businesswire.com/news/eon/20101117007043/en/Citi-Survey-Finds-Mothers-Increasingly-Uncomfortable-Debt” target=”_blank”>survey sponsored by Citi last winter showed that 80% of mothers were spending less on everyday expenses, compared to 72% overall, and that 66% of moms planned on spending less on eating out at restaurants, compared to 59% overall. Still, 73% of moms reported being somewhat or very optimistic that their financial situations will improve in the near future, compared to 64% of Americans overall.

Somehow, researchers claim that married women who keep their maiden names can expect to earn $524,000 extra throughout their careers than women who take their husbands’ surnames.

Sit down for this shocking news: Women love shopping for bargains. In a national poll, 76% of women categorized themselves as bargain hunters, 83% said they would seek out deals even if money was no object, and 65% said they typically wait for items to go on sale before making purchases. Nearly two-thirds of women also report regretting the purchase of at least one item that was on sale that they really didn’t need.

Almost 40% of married women say they are leaving their retirement planning up to their spouses, and nearly 30% say they have no idea where money will come from or how they will make ends meet in retirement.

Women enjoy retirement a heckuvalot more than men, with far more women describing their retirements as “very successful” than the fellas.


African Americans, on average, are less prepared for retirement than other groups: just 23% have more than $100K in workplace retirement plans, compared to 34% of the general public.

Poor women in developing countries are shrinking. A study by Harvard researchers shows that the average heights of poor women is on the decline in many African and South American countries.

Nobody works longer or harder than Mexicans. An OECD study shows that Mexicans toil, on average, 10 hours a day on paid (jobs) and unpaid (cooking, housework) labor, the most of any country. Belgians, by contrast, work the least, putting in just seven hours daily of paid and unpaid labor.

African Americans and Latinos are more likely than whites to use their cell phones to access e-mail and the Internet. Whereas 33% of whites use cell phones to surf the web, 51% of Latinos and 46% of blacks do so.


Having a landline is now something of a status symbol. Poor states, including Arkansas and Mississippi, have the highest concentration of cell-phone-only households—i.e., households with no traditional landline phones. States with wealthier residents, such as New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Connecticut, are far more likely to still have landlines in homes.

For the first time in 20 years, TV ownership is on the decline. Poverty is one of the reasons, but not the only one: College students and young professionals are more likely nowadays to rely on laptops, tablets, and smartphones for entertainment.

McDonald’s made news by hiring 62,000 new employees last month. More than one million people applied.

Food banks and soup kitchens fed 37 million Americans in 2010, up 46% from 2006.

Sit down for another shocker: A Demos study reveals that emergencies (health problems, job loss) wreak more havoc and lead to more credit card debt among low- and middle-income families who haven’t accumulated much in emergency savings accounts or don’t have them at all.


In a survey of people earning at least $250K a year, 84% said their wealthy is the byproduct of “focus and hard work.” Just 14% said their fortunes are the result of being born into a rich family.

The majority of Americans think it’s a good idea to raise taxes on households with annual incomes over $250K: 72% approve of the idea starting in 2013, including 55% of Republicans, 83% of Democrats, and 74% of independents.


Baby Boomers seem more comfortable leasing cars nowadays. In 2000, 15% of LeaseTrader.com customers were 50 or older, compared to 48% today.

Some 40% of retired Americans have accumulated credit card debt and don’t worry about paying it off.

Retirement will kill you. Studies have shown that “retirement was associated with a significantly higher odds for a decline in physical activity.” Another shocker, I suppose—but also an argument to keep working well past retirement age, at least part time, even if you don’t worry about paying off credit card debt.

More people, in fact, are working well into old age. The percentage of people in their late 50s and 60s in the workforce has steadily risen over the last 30 years. In 1980, for instance, about 20% of Americans ages 65-69 worked, compared to 31% in 2010. The percentage of Americans ages 16-24 has dropped since 2010—so yes, it’s sort of like grandparents are taking their grandkids’ jobs.

The Big List of Consumer Curiosities