STI: Spending Patterns - Methodology
Your Data Building Block for Identifying
Consumer Spending and Price Potentials
STI: Spending Patterns delivers insight on consumers' spending habits on over
600 common goods and services, and the amount they are willing to pay for over
100 products and services. This data can add considerable insight to market
research and allow companies to make smarter decisions on site locations,
merchandising, and marketing. It also uniquely identifies the spending habits
of consumers living in dormitories (group quarters).
Consumer spending patterns are a powerful, yet often overlooked, dataset that
businesses can use to assess market potential, geographically identify consumers
who are likely to purchase specific products and services, and learn how much
consumers are willing to spend on common purchases. Because STI: Spending
Patterns is based on the most up-to-date consumer spending data collected from
the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), it gives companies the best possible
insight in these areas.
The consumption habits and price propensities revealed in STI: Spending
Patterns are created using the comprehensive consumer spending data collected
every year (and typically released every December) by the BLS in two survey
formats conducted in about 48,000 households representing about 120,000
Synergos Technologies Inc. takes the tens of thousands of individual surveys and
enters the consumers' spending data into models. The raw data is modeled
according to several key demographic factors until it is possible to determine
the typical spending patterns and price potential of every U.S. household. The
data is modeled down to the block level. Data variables include a weekly per
capita, an average spending per capita per week, and a consumer price potential
by spending category.
The predominant factors used to model the data are income, age, and geographic
regions. Other demographic factors are applied to the model, such as marital
status and children. But income, age, and region are the three dominate factors
that have the greatest impact on determining what consumers currently spend on
specific products and services, and what they will be willing to pay for those
items in the future.
Overview of the BLS Consumer Expenditure Survey
The Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) program collects information from the
nation's households and families on their buying habits (expenditures) and
numerous household characteristics, for example, income, age, education, and
presence of children. Data collection is carried out by the U.S. Census Bureau
under contract with the BLS. The program consists of two consumer surveys, each
with its own questionnaire and sample:
- The quarterly interview survey
- The weekly diary survey
The two survey components are designed to collect different types of
expenditures. Together they deliver important data that allows data providers
to relate the expenditures and incomes of consumers to the characteristics of
- The Quarterly Interview Survey
In the Interview Survey, each consumer unit (household or single residence) is
interviewed every three months over five calendar quarters. In the initial
interview, information is collected on demographic and family characteristics
and on the consumer's inventory of major durable goods. Expenditure information
is also collected in this interview, but is used only to prevent duplicate
reporting in subsequent interviews. Expenditure information is collected in the
second through the fifth interviews using standardized questionnaires. Income
and employment information is collected in the second and fifth interviews. In
the fifth interview, a supplemental section is administered in order to account
for changes in assets and liabilities over a one-year period.
The Interview Survey, which includes hundreds of detailed questions, is designed
to obtain data on the types of expenditures respondents can recall for a period
of three months or longer. These include relatively large expenditures, such as
property, automobiles, and major durable goods, and expenditures that occur on a
regular basis, such as rent and utilities. Each consumer is interviewed once
per quarter for five consecutive quarters.
- The Weekly Diary Survey
In the Diary Survey, respondents are asked to keep track of all the purchases
they make each day for two one-week periods. Participants receive each weekly
diary during two separate visits by Census Bureau interviewers. Respondents are
asked to report all expenses (except overnight travel) that they incur during
the survey week.
The Diary Survey is designed to obtain data on frequently purchased smaller
items, including food and beverages, both at home and in food establishments,
housekeeping supplies, tobacco, nonprescription drugs, and personal care
products and services. Each consumer records expenditures in a diary.
Because the two survey components are designed to capture different types of
expenditures, integrating their data combines the important features of both.
The integrated data provides a complete accounting of consumer expenditures and
Consumer Price Potential Unique Feature of STI: Spending Patterns
Unlike any other consumer spending data product available today, STI: Spending
Patterns gives marketers critical insight into consumers' spending patterns and
how much they have the propensity to pay for products and services in the
future. With one product, market researchers can learn not only consumers'
current spending patterns, but also how much they have the propensity to spend
on the items they purchase.
For example, say the average expenditure of the average household in the U.S. on
music CDs is $10. Say this figure was calculated based on a total U.S.
expenditure of $70,000 for CDs by the 7,000 consumers interviewed by the BLS.
However, all of the CDs bought were purchased by only 10% of the 7,000
households interviewed. The means that only 700 consumers bought all $70,000
worth of CDs. And this means that each of the 700 consumers spent an average of
$100 on CDs per year. As a result, if this consumer is your current or
potential customer, it is smart to know that he or she has the potential to
spend $100 on CDs each year.
Price elasticity is also revealed in STI: Spending Patterns. For example, the
data will reveal that, say, consumers in a particular geographic region are
currently spending $2.90 on a loaf of bread, but are willing to spend $3.50 per
loaf. This insight can help companies better understand critical merchandising
issues that directly impact profits.
Gaining this enhanced consumer spending potential insight is significant,
because it provides the power to help you make smarter decisions about moving
into new markets, stocking merchandise, introducing new products in existing
markets, determining pricing strategies by geography, and creating highly
targeted promotional campaigns.
For more information on the BLS's Consumer Expenditure Survey (CE) program, go
STI: PopStats Research Conference
Mar 27-29, 2017
ICSC RECon 2017
May 22-24, 2017
Las Vegas, NV
North Hall, Booth N1528