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Getting Granular in Consumer Confidence: Gender Differences

From financial Armageddon:

In "Elders Leading the Charge, Frugality-Wise," I noted data from a Gallup poll (highlighted and analyzed by the Atlantic Business Channel) indicating that older Americans are cutting back more aggressively on spending than the younger generation.

Although some commenters speculated that a broad fall-off in retirement-related income (as interest rates have declined) or age-related differences in discretionary spending patterns played a role (which may, in fact, be true), my first thought was that those who are older and wiser tend to have a sense of economic reality that is, say, more unvarnished.

But maybe it doesn't end there. Perhaps gender also influences perceptions of economic reality, if the following Digital Journal report, "Women More Pessimistic on Economy Than Men, According to Survey," is anything to go by.

In a survey conducted by an advertising research group, women were found to be considerably more pessimistic on the economy than men. The perspective could have a sustained impact on household buying.

As economists continue to look more closely at their crystal balls for signs on the direction of the economy, a survey released by an advertising research group reflects a persistent economic pessimism among women - considerably more negative than men.

"Even though they have arguably fared better in the recession, women are more pessimistic about the economy than men, according to a 300-person survey by Performics, part of Publicis Groupe's VivaKi Nerve Center. While men appear to have improved their outlook on the economy, women have not." Advertising Age reported.

According to the group's 2009 Online Buyer Economic Trend Study, 53 percent of women said that their economic situation is worse than a year ago. Just 38 percent of men said they were worse off a year ago.

"The trend is interesting, considering unemployment among women is more than two percentage points lower than it is for men, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Men, by many accounts, have born the brunt of the job cuts," Advertising Age reported.

The pessimism among women raises concern, as marketers consider women to be responsible for more than 80 percent of household purchases - and a pullback among women would likely further extend the worldwide recession.

"In this down economy, household financial situations are negatively impacted by lower incomes, no raises, no bonuses and, in some cases, unemployment," Michael Kahn, senior VP-marketing at Performics, told Advertising Age. "Given that women are the primary purchaser in many -- if not most -- households, they may bear the brunt of having to watch dollars more carefully and make a reduced household budget work. This applies not only for a two-income household but a single-income household as well."

"What's more, 73% of women said the recession has fundamentally changed the way they think about saving and spending money vs. 57% of men," according to Advertising Age.