How spending habits differ between the UK and US

Comparisons to our transatlantic cousins can be surprising…


There are plenty of cultural differences between the UK and the US. From fundamental beliefs, like whether or not guns should be widely available to the general public or whether healthcare should be free for all, to the hard fought argument over what temperature beer should be consumed at, these are certainly two nations with plenty of contrast between then. But when it comes to what we spend, are we really so different from our friends across the pond?


Americans are more responsive to emotive advertising


Perhaps it’s the British stiff upper lip but marketing theory is that Americans tend to be more responsive to advertising that taps into their emotions. That makes us Brits less likely to spend on products that revolve around romance, love and relationships. Americans, on the other hand, are much more likely to spend hard earned cash on anything to do with love and romance, from dating websites, to romantic meals out.


Brits are more likely to spend on new ideas


A survey by VisualDNA, which analyses emotive data derived from personality quizzes, established that Brits are 2.5 x more likely to be ‘idea seekers’ when it comes to spending. So, it’s in the UK where you’re more likely to find people spending a larger proportion of their salaries on new technologies and innovative products that are designed to improve their lives in some way.


Americans are a bit more reckless with their cash


Despite both countries recently going through a pretty serious and long-lasting recession it’s the Brits who come out as the most pessimistic. And, as a result, Americans are much more likely to be willing to spend without too much encouragement, and to take out personal loans to buy what they want. The British are three times more likely to be careful with their cash and what they spend it on than those across the pond, according to VisualDNA.


Brits are less confident spenders


Americans are 5+ x times more likely to be self-confident than Brits, which has a knock on impact when it comes to spending habits. That self-belief in spending and spending choices tends to translate into unpredictable purchases that often have a spontaneous element. The less confident Brits, on the other hand, tend to be more cautious about making purchases and need more time and convincing to buy.


But we’re all spending more online


Data from IMRG shows that both the US and the UK are now spending more online than ever before. With increases of between 10% and 20%, UK and US consumers are on the same page when it comes to the choice, savings and opportunities that come from buying more online. We’re also jumping online more often to research products before we buy – more than half of consumers in both countries will rely solely on internet research to get an idea of whether a product is the right one before making a purchase.


So, while there may be some pretty fundamental differences between the UK and the US spending habits, it seems that technology and the online world might be the point at which we meet.

Julie Lord

I have a Masters degree in PPE (UK) and now research and write as a freelancer on a variety of subjects such as personal finance, home improvements and work-life balance.

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