As we enter the second month of the new year, even though inflation has started to show signs of slowing down, the market volatility is still in full swing. A Wall Street Journal’s article a few days ago declared, ‘The dash for cash on Wall Street is back on’, a sign of jittery investors. Typically, the beginning of a new year is a time when many people revisit their finances and budgets. This year, personal finance decisions take an even more central role.

A recent survey conducted by Shapiro+Raj with a large representative sample of adults showed that nearly all Americans are concerned about current economic conditions. Over nine in ten American adults cited increasing food prices and inflation as the issues they are most worried about. The short- and long-term impacts of the economic environment are a significant stressor for close to half of Americans. This worry uniquely crosses generational, gender, and regional divides. Because of these concerns, eighty percent of Americans agree they are more involved in their financial wellbeing than ever before.

To help allay these concerns, Americans say they are actively adjusting their life to prepare for what may happen this year. A majority (84%) are planning to save more money and/or tighten their budgets. Over half also told us that looking for a higher paying job and investing for both the short- and long-term are among their top priorities this year. This provides an opportunity for companies to offer financial advice, guidance and products that meet consumer needs.

While Americans are wary about the economy, over eighty percent say they feel optimistic about how things will go for them in 2023. They are also making plans on how they want to allocate their discretionary spending. Nearly half say they plan to take a domestic and/or international vacation in the next year. While they may think twice about their budgets, there is a burning need to get out of the house, take breaks, share with family, and go on adventures.

They are also planning to spend money on upgrading their living situation – one in five adults plan to renovate key areas of their homes, like kitchens and bathrooms. Another 20% plan to move to another location and 14% say they plan to purchase a new primary home.

These are strong proof points that the great American optimism is alive and well despite the challenges our country has faced in recent years.

The resilience of the American spirit provides many potential opportunities for brands and businesses. Perhaps this opens new ways for product innovation that disrupt long-held paradigms and address new unmet needs? The online banking arm of Goldman Sachs – Marcus – has recently launched a Rate-Bump CD that gives consumers the chance to take advantage of higher rates in the future, rather than getting locked in on one rate for the entire CD duration as often is the case.  Perhaps more than ever, the micro-battle approach in go-to-market is the way forward, which provides precision and agility to meet the changing needs? For instance, while home improvement demand may increase overall, there can be low hanging fruits in certain regions, certain household sizes, certain types of properties, etc.? Perhaps brand experience can be elevated to provide value-add content and services to consumers? In Healthcare, for example, are there opportunities to go beyond co-pay / financial support to also provide well-being / holistic care support to patients and caregivers, knowing how much uncertainties can add to the disease burden?

How can brands meet consumers’ needs to be cautious, but also help guide their short- and long-term decisions as it relates to financial, physical, and emotional well-being? How can we help sustain their sense of optimism through uncertain times? We would love to engage in this dialogue. Feel free to write us at [email protected].