Executive Briefing

Apple’s privacy changes are still causing advertising chaos. Do consumers care?

A data point from our proprietary Consumer Trends survey. Also: Tracking the consumer in Q3 earnings commentary.

We’ve been gearing up for a downturn for months. So with rising interest rates and continued inflation, how’s the consumer doing?

As companies have been reporting third-quarter results the past couple of weeks, some observations are rolling in:

  • Chipotle Mexican Grill said this week that it’s seeing “a widening of trends by income level,” with lower-income consumers reducing order frequency and higher-income households increasing frequency.
  • Amazon said this week that it’s worse in Europe than in the US. Regarding its consumer e-commerce business, in North America, “it was strong, but it started to slow a bit,” CFO Brian Olsavsky said. “But it was mostly in international where we saw the biggest impact, and we think that is tied to a tougher recessionary environment there.”
  • American Express, purveyor of high-end credit cards, said last week that, “As we sit here today, we see no changes in the spending behaviors of our customers, and our credit metrics continue to be strong.” Consumer travel bookings set a pandemic-era record. And Millennial and Gen. Z consumers drove its highest US “billed business” growth, with spending up 39% year-over-year.
  • Procter & Gamble said last week that it’s seeing some growth in its mid-tier brands of fabric care “as consumers are looking for value within our portfolio.” Consumers are also shifting to both cheaper and more expensive pack purchases, CEO Jon Moeller said: Some are investing in larger packs to get a better value per-use. Others who are more cost-conscious are moving to smaller pack sizes.

The big picture, here in the US, is that consumer spending growth has been decelerating since the beginning of the summer, and spending is now down slightly on a year-over-year basis, according to Earnest Research, which tracks spending via credit and debit card data.

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Dan Frommer

Hi, I’m Dan Frommer and this is The New Consumer, a publication about how and why people spend their time and money.

I’m a longtime tech and business journalist, and I’m excited to focus my attention on how technology continues to profoundly change how things are created, experienced, bought, and sold. The New Consumer is supported entirely by your membership — join now to receive my reporting, analysis, and commentary directly in your inbox, via my member-exclusive newsletter. Thanks in advance.

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