Despite overall weakened consumer confidence post Sept. 11, American customer satisfaction with non-durable goods for the third quarter remains high, according to the University”s quarterly American Customer Satisfaction Index.

“This is not a bad sign. Expectations are that it would have decreased more than it did,” said Claes Fornell, business professor and director of the University Business School”s National Quality Research Center. “Things are not getting worse.”

Satisfaction with non-durable goods decreased only slightly, to 80.3 out of a possible 100 from last year”s reading of 80.8,

Overall, the ACSI is at 72.1, a decline over last year”s measurement of 72.9.

Non-durable goods are defined as products quickly consumed and expected only to last for a short period of time. The segment includes numerous industries, such as food processing, soft drinks, beer, tobacco, apparel, and personal care products. The score for this sector is about 12 percent higher than those of other industries.

“Looking at the numbers, it”s evident that people are still satisfied with non-durables,” said Graham Curchin, an equity trader at Bank of America in Chicago. “We”re talking about products like toothpaste, soap, cheese people are not going to change their opinions on these greatly over time.”

Non-durables normally produce higher customer satisfaction than other industries because “customer switching costs are low, and, as a result, there are few “captive” customers, as dissatisfied buyers can easily switch to another product,” Fornell said in a press release.

He also pointed out that “the market offers numerous brands with many purchase alternatives, thus satisfying many different consumer tastes. Also, customer service, which often creates havoc in other industries, plays only a minor role in the purchase and consumption of non-durables.”

Of the industries in the non-durable sector, only food processing posted a customer satisfaction increase, rising to 82 from 81.

The personal care product industry had the highest satisfaction of all industries overall, with a reading of 83. All other industries posted small decreases. Athletic shoes posted the largest decline, dropping four percent.

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