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Issue Date: Vol. 49, No.7, July 2009, Posted On: 8/1/2009

Survey Gauges Recession's Impact On Workers' Consumption Habits

Tim Sanford
WorkPlace Media, Stephanie Molnar, vending news, eating out, vending machine, workplace consumers, eating trends in recession, away-from-home eating, foodservice, coffee service

MENTOR, OH -- The results of a new survey from WorkPlace Media, a marketing firm that specializes in targeting workplace consumers, pinpoint some of the changes this segment is making in food and beverage purchasing habits in light of the recession.

Overall, 31% of workers surveyed reported making less money due to the recession, and 76% said they have made some sort of cuts to their food and beverage consumption. Furthermore, when it comes to health, 34% said that cheaper fast food trumps health concerns during the down economy.

Of working consumers who drink coffee -- excluding those who brew it at work or home -- 40% said they have been spending less than top dollar (at chains like Dunkin' Donuts and McDonald's); 35% stopped purchasing on-the-go coffee; 18% still spend top dollar (at Starbucks and other upscale cafes); and 7% opt for the cheapest option (generic brands purchased at delis, etc.).

When asked how the recession has affected their breakfast consumption, 37% of survey participants said their breakfast habits have not changed and 35% said they prepare breakfast at home more. Belt tightening was further reflected by 23% of those surveyed saying they reduced the amount of times they purchase breakfast out, and 10% who discontinued purchasing breakfast out. Additionally, 9% said they rarely eat breakfast anymore and 3% said they choose cheaper fast-food alternatives for breakfast.

Similarly, 40% of workplace consumers said they have cut back on the number of times they purchase lunch out; 39% said they prepared their lunch at home more; and 28% said their lunch spending habits had not changed. Penny pinching has also led 8% of consumers in the workforce to choose cheaper fast- food alternatives for lunch, and 7% to discontinue purchasing lunch out. And 3% reported they rarely eat lunch anymore.

Nearly half of respondents also reported cutting back on away-from-home dinner purchases.

"When it comes to how the recession has affected the daily routines of workers, fewer working consumers are purchasing breakfast, lunch and dinner out. Some have even resorted to skipping meals to save money," said WorkPlace Media chief executive Stephanie Molnar. "You can expect even more changes to these habits as the recession plays itself out -- and hopefully recedes. But staying in touch with these changing attitudes is utterly crucial for any company looking to stay in step with today's working consumer."

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