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SCHAUMBURG, Ill. - ACNielsen U.S., an operating unit of ACNielsen, a VNU company, announced that it has found the University of Michigan's Consumer Sentiment Index to be a good predictor of future changes in consumer purchasing of food, health and beauty aids, and non-food consumer packaged goods (CPG). This is the first time the Consumer Sentiment Index attitudinal findings have been correlated to consumer purchase behavior. The research indicates a nine-month lag between changing attitudes and their manifestation in purchase behavior.
ACNielsen U.S. president Tim Callahan said the findings have far-reaching implications for the consumer packaged goods industry. "The relationship between consumer sentiment and its impact on future consumer purchasing behavior is so strong that we will now be able to evaluate future consumer spending on non-durable categories more precisely. This is a significant breakthrough that should enable us to help our clients better anticipate and influence consumer purchase behavior."
Controlling for other factors that would impact consumer purchasing, ACNielsen compared changes in the University of Michigan's Consumer Sentiment Index with consumer purchasing transactions from the 55,000-household ACNielsen Homescan consumer panel. It found that changes in consumer sentiment impacted purchases of consumer food, health and beauty aids, and non-food CPG categories, with changes in consumer sentiment leading changes in purchasing behavior by approximately nine months.
Richard Curtin, director of the University of Michigan's Surveys of Consumers, said, "The ACNielsen findings are very important and further demonstrate the Consumer Sentiment Index's broad predictive capabilities. Past work has linked our index with purchasing of durables such as automobiles and appliances. We have also found that the index is a good predictor of changes in unemployment levels that materialize nine months later. But this is the first evidence we have ever seen that the index predicts changes in purchasing of non-durables."
ACNielsen is conducting additional research to examine the impact of changes in consumer sentiment on behavioral changes within specific retail channels and product categories. Surveys of Homescan consumer panel households are providing additional insights into the linkage between consumer attitudes and behavior.