Consumer Pulse Survey Header

To better inform our clients, Signature Graphics commissioned a survey in late July to take the “Pulse” of today’s shopper. We wanted to get direct feedback from consumers to better understand what they are experiencing today and how they anticipate responding to these new circumstances tomorrow.

The Economy

Our first concern was to better understand how consumers feel about the economy today. This is important because it will drive all other decisions consumers will make. We asked two simple questions:

    1. How Concerned are you about the economy during the next three months?
    2. What impact will COVID-19, and economic concerns have on your monthly household spending during the next three months?

Not surprisingly, consumers are concerned.

78.35% of those surveyed responded that they were
Extremely or Very Concerned.
Less than 2% indicated they were not concerned at all.

What impact will COVID-19, and economic concerns have on your monthly household spending during the next three months?

The second question began to show us the ramifications of that concern. When asked about household spending, 72% replied that they planned to spend less during the next three months. With only 15.3% indicating there would be no change in their spending.

This is the catalyst that will drive the resurgence of the value-driven shopping patterns we saw next.

Shopping Behavior

We wanted to better understand how economic forces would impact shopping behaviors. During previous financially challenging times, consumers made a notable shift towards value-seeking.

Predictably, we are seeing the same response from shoppers today. They are looking for savings wherever they can find them.

How important are advertised savings to you when planning your shopping?

When almost 97% of a survey audience tells you advertised savings are important, you, as an advertiser, should take note.

Value Drives Response

We know that savings are important to shoppers, so next, we wanted to understand how savings impacted their shopping patterns. Do they respond to advertised savings?

Again, we saw an overwhelming response to this, with more than two-thirds of consumers telling us they are very likely to shop with retailers who advertised promotional discounts in their ads. This information is a direct corroboration of data recently released from Valassis, where they indicate that 72% of shoppers ranked Saving Money by using coupons/discounts as a top shopping priority. Source: Valassis Chasing Value Survey 2020.

We asked two other questions that you will find helpful. The first had to do with ad content and what shoppers were looking for from you.

Many of the survey takers took the easy way out, answering this question by choosing “all of the above”. Of those with a preference, over 27% indicated that specials and sale prices were their first priority. It should be noted that consumers still care about how you are addressing shopping safety, so it should be a part of your regular messaging.

Shoppers Understand

Many of our customers have shared concerns about the supply chain and fears of advertising something you may not have available once the ad breaks. So, we asked our survey group how they react to that situation.

The Media

Over the years, we have seen a shift in how consumers navigate the path to purchase. The increase in media choices has propagated a new way of shopping. Rather than replacing one media format with another, shoppers continue to embrace the trusted and familiar forms of media while at the same time adding in the new media options. They rely on multiple information sources to inform and finalize their shopping decisions. And while this has created a favorable environment for the consumer, it has complicated the methodology for retailers.

No longer does a one size fits all approach work for businesses that want to advertise to consumers. To cover all the bases, a modern advertiser must rely on a multi-channel approach. This was evident once again from the answers we received in our survey.

We asked consumers:

At first glance, one might say the print ad engagement numbers are way down. But in all fairness, we probably didn’t ask this question correctly. We singled out print advertising but lumped together all of the various digital advertising options into one response. A more accurate picture would be seen by breaking out the numerous digital ad formats and seeing how they compare when standing alone.

Even with that bias in the question, there is a significant segment of the population that views print and digital as equally important. And when you combine that with the portion that prefers print, you are engaging with over 50% of the market. That a sizable segment that can’t be ignored.

In a similar survey from last year, we asked the question a bit differently and got a very different response. In this example, almost two-thirds of those polled either preferred print or ranked it equal to digital.

This is further evidence indicating that to fully engage the largest segments of the consumer population, a true multi-channel approach is not only desirable, it is absolutely required.


The pandemic has moved the needle off the charts for many critical metrics. We have seen unprecedented unemployment, massive business closures, and a 33% loss of GDP. The future is unknown, and the consumer is having to adjust to maintain a household amidst an ever-changing landscape. They are responding as they have in the past, with a return frugality and value-seeking.

Previous research and survey results tell us that in times like these, market share is going to grow or shrink based on the amount of promotional advertising a brand does. Retailers can benefit from aligning their advertising with the consumer’s demand for value.

You can’t paint all consumers with one brush. Now more than ever, a proper media mix is critical to reach all consumers as they are choosing to rely on multiple resources along the path to purchase. Just like an investor rarely puts all their dollars into one stock, your advertising budget should be diversified to assure exposure to all growth opportunities.

Numerous surveys concur with our experience and conclude that using a combination of media, including print, will outperform any one format on its own and will align with the consumers continuing reliance on print as a trusted resource.

IN CONCLUSION, brands that embrace the findings represented here and engage consumers with consistency and diversity will thrive even in challenging economic times.

About the Survey

The survey was conducted by Insight Factory from July 24th, through July 28, 2020. 1,037 random individuals were asked to answer 12 questions related to their spending and shopping behaviors and how they have changed or will change as a result of current circumstances. The audience consisted of 46.73% male and 53.27% female. Household incomes were identified as follows:

  • Less than $50K – 42.4%
  • $50-$100K – 40.9%
  • $100-$150K – 11.51%
  • $150L + – 5.07%

About Signature Graphics

Signature Graphics is a full-service commercial printer specializing in heat-set and cold-set web printing. With over 170 employees, we offer a full complement of bindery, mailing, graphic design, and logistics services. Through our subsidiary, Mailbox Merchants, we print and distribute monthly targeted direct mail advertising to over two million households in six western states. Our subsidiary, Kobalt Design Group, functions as an in-house design agency with a complete suite of graphic design services. Established in 1986, the company is privately held and maintains corporate offices in Portland, Oregon, with additional facilities in Spokane and Seattle, WA.