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Women are guilty of wandering eyes in the recession

The recession has enhanced the female shopper's IQ, says a data research company based in Australia.

Datamonitor, a business information company specializing in industry analysis, released results from its Recession & Recovery research that showed women are more willing than men to shop around for better deals, even though the beauty sector has been an industry that is traditionally sheltered from recessionary spending.

While it is no surprise that consumers tighten their purse strings during a recession, the survey done on Australian shoppers showed up some interesting results as to who is making more lifestyle changes, as well as the type of sacrifices that are being made, in a downturn.

When asked in July 2009, about one-third of Australian men claimed they are now buying cheaper brands, while over half of Australian women are doing the same. Even store choice has been impacted by women’s predilection to switching: around one-third of Australian women report that they are shopping around for the best price, which is almost double the proportion of men who exhibit the same behaviour.

Even though Australian women may be purchasing the same, or even a greater quantity of beauty products, they are indulging in less expensive products. Research showed that women are three times more likely than men to replace their usual brand of skincare with a new but cheaper alternative, and twice as likely to do the same with cosmetics purchases.

Katrina Diamonon, a Datamonitor analyst based in Sydney, said: "Women's desire to treat themselves need not conflict with their pursuit of value.

"Australian women are quickly realizing that they can indeed indulge in beauty products while getting a great deal. However, their responses indicate that growing value consciousness can come at the expense of brand loyalty."

Nearly one-quarter of Australian women are ditching their favourite hairdressers and salons, and opting instead for cheaper at-home solutions such as hair-dyes and waxing kits. 93 per cent of men on the other hand, are sticking with their usual grooming services.

Female consumers are also more inclined to switch brands, or even stores where they shop, in order to save money. These 'butterfly consumers are "easily distracted by different offerings, whether it is new product variants, improved store formats or more engaging shopping experiences," explains Ms Diamonon.

But this does not mean that female shoppers have no brand loyalty. Such shoppers do stick with their favourite brands if the perceived benefits justify the cost, but if the brands do not deliver, you can be sure the shoppers will be flitting elsewhere.

Ms Diamonon concluded: "In the downturn, it is the prospect of lower prices and greater value that is making them flutter."

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