Frugality Is Hard to Afford
Ross School of Business Paper No. 1309
Kilts Center for Marketing at Chicago Booth – Nielsen Dataset Paper Series 2-031
41 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2016 Last revised: 28 Apr 2018
Date Written: April 20, 2018
Households commonly utilize strategies that provide long-term savings on everyday purchases in exchange for an increase in their short-term expenditures. For example, they buy larger packages of non-perishable goods to take advantage of bulk discounts, and accelerate their purchases to take advantage of temporary discounts. However, use of such strategies requires that households have the liquidity necessary to increase their short-term spending. Using the Nielsen consumer panel dataset, this paper provides causal evidence that liquidity constraints inhibit low-income households’ ability to use such strategies, above and beyond the impact of other constraints, revealing a previously undocumented dimension of the poverty penalty. Our findings suggest that low-income households will be less responsive to promotions that require intertemporal substitution than their higher-income counterparts, and that they will be more responsive during times of higher liquidity (e.g., shortly after receiving paychecks) than during times of lower liquidity. We discuss marketing and policy implications of this result.
Keywords: intertemporal substitution, poverty, liquidity constraints, bulk discounts, purchase acceleration
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