The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many consumers' habits, including how they like to spend money. While many Americans have halted social activities over the past two years, home entertainment has spiked, with consumers craving domestic conveniences more than ever.
It makes sense then that the items consumers say they're most willing to splurge on are electronics and technology. According to the 2022 Consumer Culture Report from PR firm 5W Public Relations (5WPR), purchases in this category take precedence over more splurge-worthy expenditures of the past, like dining out.
Electronics and technology are top splurging category again
Here's what respondents tell 5WPR they were most likely to splurge on in 2021:
- Electronics and technology (57%)
- Health and wellness (49%)
- Home goods and furniture (48%)
- Dining out (46%)
Electronics and technology
Whether respondents were 16 to 24 or older than 55, electronics and technology was the biggest category for splurging across the board. Year-over-year interest in products within this category — which takes the top spot for the second year in a row — increased by 4%.
As consumers have grown more accustomed to spending time at home, their dollars have turned toward devices that provide hands-on entertainment and improve domestic life.
In a 2021 report from digital intelligence firm Brandwatch, respondents said consumer tech, like gaming devices and consoles, was a huge source of joy. Meanwhile, a 2021 AARP report found older adults grew more reliant on tech, from smart TVs and smartphones to earbuds and headsets, to help them stay connected.
Other top spending categories
5WPR respondents leaned toward health and wellness for the second most popular splurge-worthy expense, with home goods and furniture just behind. By age range, health and wellness was second for 16- to 24-year-olds, 25- to 34-year-olds and those 55 and older, while home goods and furniture was second for 35- to 44-year-olds and 45- to 54-year-olds.
In-person shopping is key to testing new products
While quarantine and other health protocols have driven shoppers away from brick-and-mortars, in-person shopping is still valuable to consumers.
Small businesses report ongoing economic challenges, but in what may be good news for them, respondents in the 5WPR survey identify a few important reasons they still want to shop in person:
- 52% say they prefer to find new products in store rather than online
- 47% say in-store experiences are what most drives them to shop in person
- 23% shop in person to gain access to the expertise of sales staff
- 21% like to visit stores as a shared activity with friends
Respondents also highlight the importance of discovering a new product and inspecting its quality. For those who shop online, the majority (61%) now say same-day shipping is a major driver in choosing an e-commerce store.
Methodology: 5WPR commissioned Censuswide to survey 2,002 U.S. consumers aged 16 and older, fielded from Nov. 18-22, 2021.