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    Middle-class Consumers Find Better Bargains at Discounters, Warehouse Clubs: Survey

    BOSTON -- A new survey commissioned by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) here showing the key role that bargain hunting plays in American middle-class consumers' lives yielded the information that such consumers say they're most likely to find high-quality bargains online, at discounters or at warehouse clubs, but very rarely at traditional department stores or neighborhood boutiques.

    BOSTON -- A new survey commissioned by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) here showing the key role that bargain hunting plays in American middle-class consumers' lives yielded the information that such consumers say they're most likely to find high-quality bargains online, at discounters or at warehouse clubs, but very rarely at traditional department stores or neighborhood boutiques.

    The survey, conducted online by Rochester, N.Y.-based Harris Interactive among 1,042 U.S. adults over 18 with annual household incomes of at least $50,000, found that 25 percent of respondents say they'll be most likely to find a great bargain on eBay or another online retailer; 23 percent say they'll be most likely to find one at a discounter like Wal-Mart, and 20 percent say it will be at a warehouse club like Costco.

    The bargains that U.S. consumers are most likely to find are on electronics, clothing, home decor items, and sporting equipment; appliances and liquor; and beer or wine.

    The survey was fielded to coincide with the publication of "Treasure Hunt: Inside the Mind of the New Consumer" (Portfolio, May 2006) by Michael J. Silverstein, a BCG s.v.p. and co-author of the best-selling "Trading Up: The New American Luxury" (Portfolio 2003). "Treasure Hunt" explores how just about every middle class consumer is now intelligently and avidly seeking out good-quality products and services in every category -- from clothing and luxuries to food and hotel rooms -- at significantly low prices. The book argues that manufacturers and retailers are no longer in control, unless they're both innovating and cost cutting to deliver more value. According to the book, consumers save more than $100 billion annually by "treasure hunting."

    Harris Interactive conducted the online survey on behalf of BCG between March 27 and April 5, 2006. Data were weighted to be representative of the total population of U.S. adults with annual household incomes of $50,000 or more on the basis of education, age/gender, ethnicity/race, region, and propensity to be online.

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