It’s A Recession, Consumers Agree — But Until When

It’s A Recession, Consumers Agree — But Until When

Most global consumers agree that their countries have hit recession, but opinion on how long the recession will last remains mixed, Nielsen reported Wednesday.

While 53% of those surveyed by Nielsen think their country has hit a prolonged recession that will last more than 12 months, 18% of consumers, concentrated in a handful of emerging markets, like India, Vietnam, China, and Russia, told Nielsen they expect their countries to be out of recession within the next 12 months.

In contrast, consumers in Japan, Germany, Argentina, Mexico, Turkey, Italy, Taiwan, the U.S., and Spain were the least optimistic about the prospects for quick economic recovery.

Nielsen surveyed 28,663 Internet users in 52 markets across Europe, Asia Pacific, the Americas, and the Middle East between September 22 and October 6, 2008, as part of its Global Online Consumer Survey.

The survey’s results reveal that global consumer confidence fell to a new low this month, dropping from an index of 88 in May 2008 — previously the lowest index on record — to 84 in October, according to Nielsen.  Only Brazil, the Philippines, New Zealand, China, Thailand, South Africa, and Hungary showed improved consumer confidence, compared with May 2008.

Not surprisingly, consumers worldwide are adopting new strategies to reduce discretionary spending and shore up household finances.


On average, 49% of global consumers plan to spend less on new clothing, as well as gas and electricity, according to Nielsen. 

Meanwhile, 47% report reducing out-of-home entertainment, 40% say they’ll delay upgrading to new PCs and mobile phones, and 39% will cut down on take-away meals from restaurants. 

Even necessities, like groceries, are on the chopping block — 36% of global consumers report switching to cheaper grocery brands in order to reduce their expenses.

Overall, consumers in Australia, New Zealand, Germany, the U.K., Turkey, the U.S., Colombia, and Argentina plan to make the most changes in their spending habits, as they search for ways to weather the current economic turmoil.

View the full press release.

Read a related press release on consumer confidence in Hong Kong and Great Britain.

Read coverage of Nielsen’s findings by Sky News and in the Shanghai Daily, the Business Standard (India), Forbes, the Financial TimesThe China Post, the Thanh Nien Daily, and the Malaysia Star.

Learn more about global consumer confidence levels in the December 2008 issue of Nielsen’s “Consumer Insight” online newsletter.