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Customer satisfaction is up, despite waning consumer confidence, ACSI shows

Although consumer confidence has taken a large hit in the last year, customer satisfaction and consumer spending continue to rise, according to the latest results of the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).

The ACSI, updated with new customer satisfaction data on non-durable products, rose slightly from a second-quarter score of 73 (out of a possible 100) to a mark of 73.1 in the third quarter. Compared with a year ago, the ACSI is up 1.5 percent.

"While troublesome in its own right, declining confidence has not translated into materially less spending or lower satisfaction with the products and services bought," says Claes Fornell, professor of business and director of the Business School's National Quality Research Center, which compiles and analyzes the ACSI data. "Clearly, customer satisfaction is different from consumer confidence. A person can feel less confident about the state of the economy and yet be more satisfied with his or her automobile, sneakers or tax accountant.

"Is it consumer utility, as measured by the ACSI, or confidence about the state of the economy that drives consumer purchase decisions? Even though low confidence may eventually kick in and make consumers more cautious, we haven't seen it yet."

Fornell notes that strong consumer spending accounted for much of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth in the third quarter. He adds that because customer satisfaction has a strong effect on spending, the ACSI and GDP usually move in the
same direction.

In the current ACSI, the individual sector score for manufacturing non-durables reflects a similar percentage increase found in the overall ACSI score. But the current score of 81.4 for this sectorcomprising eight industries (food processing, soft drinks, beer, tobacco, apparel, athletic shoes, personal care products and pet foods)is 11 percent higher than the overall ACSI score for all industries measured year-round.

The ACSI is a national economic indicator of customer evaluations of the quality of products and services available to household consumers in the United States. The index is produced by a partnership of the Business School, ASQ and CFI Group, and supported in part by Market Strategies Inc., a major corporate sponsor. Company scores and other information can be found at


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