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Catalyst – 2 in 3 US consumers are trading down to save money

Did you know that 2 out of 3 US consumers are currently trading down on their food and grocery purchases in order to save money? 

This trend has been identified through a recent Catalyst study, which surveyed over 2,500 US adults in December 2022.

The findings revealed that 68% of US consumers are actively trading down on their food and grocery products. This trend is more common among women, with 71% of females surveyed reporting that they have been making cost-saving substitutions. Additionally, Gen X consumers were found to be the most likely generation to trade down, with 75% of respondents in this age group reporting that they have altered their purchasing behavior to save money.

Those actively switching Food and Grocery products(s) to save money
Chart 1: Those actively switching Food and Grocery products(s) to save money

Trading down is widespread

Trading down is not limited to those in financially constrained situations, but is widespread across all demographics. In fact, more than 1 in 5 respondents reported that they are switching all or almost all of their food and grocery products to save money. This percentage jumps to 1 in 4 for Gen Z and Millennials, and 1 in 3 for Gen X.

More than 2 in 5 respondents indicated they are switching a large number of products or more.

As might also be expected, lower-income households are more likely to be substituting products (73%) than higher-income households (65%).

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the highest proportion of trading down is found among people who are currently in a constrained financial situation (83%) and those who are worse off financially than they were a year ago (85%).

All / almost all products are being switched to save money
Chart 2: All / almost all products are being switched to save money

The barriers to trading down

However, there are still some barriers to trading down. The primary barriers to trading down related to perceptions of a loss in product quality (32%) and that the cost savings are not sufficient to warrant changing products (32%).

Additionally, sustainability/ESG considerations have emerged as concerns for some consumers, with 1 in 10 indicating that they would not trade down due to these reasons. This percentage increases to more than 1 in 6 for Millennials.

In conclusion, it’s clear that trading down is a widespread trend among US consumers, with a majority of respondents reporting that they are making cost-saving substitutions in their food and grocery purchases. With the right products and messaging, businesses can capitalize on this trend while addressing consumers’ concerns about quality and sustainability.


By Eddie Kowalski
Catalyst Program Director

About Catalyst

Catalyst is an open-source research program investigating consumer concerns about social and environmental issues. The program is building a body of knowledge to fuel conversation, action and behavior change by supporting businesses with insights that fuel their own programs of action. 

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Our Partners

Glow is a proud partner and research technology provider to the Catalyst program. Special thanks to Cint for providing the sample on which the research is based and to our other partner brands including:

Catalyst partners April 2022