My colleague and I were discussing about certain types of customers in the IT industry. You have to work extremely hard to convince them so that they think about opening their wallets .

However, they should not be mistaken to be stingy (carries a negative connotation). Cost-conscious is a closely related term but is a bit wordy. Another word that I considered is shrewd but I don't know if it fits my context well.

Usage Sentence:

Nowadays, IT customers are becoming increasingly ________. They demand more for less and probably think a zillion times before reaching for their pockets. If they are not convinced 100%, they simply won't open their wallets.

Is there is a noun or an adjective to describe such people? I am also open to using idioms, if there is one that conveys the intentions well.

N.B: I am looking for words with neutral to positive connotations.


13 Answers 13


Thrifty might fit:

1 : thriving by industry and frugality : prosperous
3 : given to or marked by economy and good management


Palpably related to thrive, so there is a mild implication of prosperity in connection to the frugality. Frugal is a good option, too, even though it also connotes modesty, which I'm not sure is the case here.

  • 6
    Here in the UK I'd go for Frugal over Thrifty, I think Thrifty is more an american term but I could be wrong.
    – Tim B
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 17:00
  • 1
    The seemingly closely related word "Spendthrift" (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spendthrift) has more or less the exact opposite meaning. I mention it here just for interest's sake.
    – Wossname
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 11:49

A lot of the answers' definitions refer to frugality. So I suggest the word itself: Frugal

adjective 1. economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful: What your office needs is a frugal manager who can save you money without resorting to painful cutbacks. Synonyms: thrifty, chary, provident, careful, prudent, penny-wise, scrimping; miserly, Scotch, penny-pinching. Antonyms: wasteful, extravagant, spendthrift, prodigal, profligate.

2. entailing little expense; requiring few resources; meager; scanty: a frugal meal.

  • 1
    Relatedly, some places can be "frupid" - frugal to the point of stupidity (e.g. saving $1 on airfare by having employees take red-eye flights with multiple connections, or spending a lot of money on custom-made doors so they can appear "frugal" by maintaining a tradition of uncomfortable, not-even-remotely ergonomic door desks).
    – fluffy
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 17:59
  • 3
    "Nowadays, IT customers are becoming increasingly frugal"? I like frugal as a synonym of cost-conscious, but I don't think it fits this particular context. Frugality seems to have a connotation of using money sparingly. I don't think that using money sparingly is a phenomenon of IT customers (or customers in general). Rather, prices are being pushed down and as a consequence IT customers are less willing to spend a lot of money, but not because they want to use (all) their money sparingly (not because they have "become frugal").
    – Earthliŋ
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 20:24


(a) marked by wisdom or judiciousness (prudent advice);

(b) shrewd in the management of practical affairs (prudent investors);

(c) marked by circumspection, discreet (having or showing discernment or good judgment in conduct and especially in speech);

(d) provident (careful about planning for the future and saving money for the future), frugal (careful about spending money or using things when you do not need to; using money or supplies in a very careful way)

Ref: Merriam Webster Dictionary Definition for Prudent

  • 1
    I was going to suggest the synonym scrupulous, but I fear it suffers the same problem as prudent: on its own, it doesn't pertain specifically to finance, so it's not a suitable one-word answer to this particular question. In fact, if you drop it into the asker's example, it's almost confusing bercause money isn't even mentioned explicitly - it's only implied by the mention of pockets, before "open their wallets" slips in at the end.
    – talrnu
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 1:57

In your specific case I'd use cost-conscious:

  • knowing how much different ​products and ​services ​cost, and not wanting to ​spend more ​money than is necessary:

    • cost-conscious ​shoppers/​consumers/​investors

(Cambridge Dictionary)

Other options are:


  • excessively sparing or frugal. (AHD)

  • exhibiting or marked by parsimony; especially : frugal to the point of stinginess. (M-W)

A parsimonious person:

  • is unwilling to spend a lot of money. You know those people who count up every penny when it's time to split a restaurant bill? You can call them parsimonious. Or cheap. Stingy is the most common and general synonym, but there are many other near synonyms: thrifty, frugal, penurious, niggardly, penny-pinching, miserly, tight-fisted, tight. The adjective parsimonious was formed in English from the noun parsimony "the quality of being careful in spending" (from Latin parcimonia, from parcere "to spare") plus the suffix –ous "having the quality of."



I would use the adjective savvy in the context which means:

experienced, knowledgeable, and well-informed; shrewd (often used in combination): 'consumers who are savvy about prices'

Nowadays consumers are more knowledgeable and well-informed about the products mainly thanks to the internet with which they can compare different products very easily.

I would prefer savvy to economical

(Of a person or lifestyle) careful not to waste money or resources

[Dictionary.com, Oxford Online Dictionary]


Nowadays, IT customers are becoming increasingly discriminating {about/with their purchases}.

(usage example from ‘Strategic Management’ By H. Igor Ansoff, via Google Books)

Discriminating adjective (see especially definition 2a):

1: making a distinction : distinguishing (a discriminating mark)

2: marked by discrimination:
a : discerning, judicious (discriminating buyers) (emphasis added)
b : discriminatory (accused of discriminating practices)

(from Merriam-Webster)

Regarding your passing mention of “shrewd” (which I don’t interpret as your final decision to preclude it as an option), notwithstanding my answer above *(and the caveat mentioned below), I think it would fit well in your context (and by changing “becoming” to “getting,” you could even add some [admittedly lame] wordplay to the first sentence!):

Tired of getting [increasingly] screwed, nowadays IT customers are getting {increasingly} shrewd [at negotiating prices].

(example usage from ‘Labour and Gold in Fiji’ By Atu Emberson-Bain, via Google Books)

Although you’d need to (unfortunately?) go back to “becoming” (and miss that wonderful wordplay opportunity?), I think it would also fit as part of the following two-word option:

Nowadays , IT customers are [increasingly] becoming [increasingly] shrewd negotiators.

(example usage from ‘Open Sources 2.0: The Continuing Evolution’ By Chris DiBona, Mark Stone, Danese Cooper, via Google Books)


Function: adjective
: showing quick practical cleverness : ASTUTE (a shrewd observer);
also : marked by clever dealing that takes advantage (a shrewd negotiator) (emphasis added) (from ‘Merriam-Webster’s Student Dictionary)

*(Please note that the “takes advantage” part of the definition might make it less neutral/positive than you want, but people who I have called “shrewd” to their face have never seemed to take offense and have often seemed pleased.)


I want to suggest price-conscious. The real problem with IT customers are cheap products that push down the prices across the market. 10 years ago, you would buy a USB stick for $20 or more. Nowadays, you expect it to cost only a couple of bucks. It's not that all IT customers have turned into stingy human beings. They're just unwilling to pay more than a price of a burger for a USB stick, because they expect it to be cheap.

To me, frugal, stingy, etc., suggests that customers have become different human beings. It's not that IT customers are poor now, or think that being frugal helps the planet. They're just more price-conscious than they were ten years ago. So, nowadays, IT customers are thinking "it shouldn't cost that much",

Nowadays, IT customers are becoming increasingly price-conscious. They demand more for less and probably think a zillion times before reaching for their pockets. If they are not convinced 100%, they simply won't open their wallets.


The OP invited me to post this longish idiom, but this expresses what customers demand from their purchases nowadays .

more bang for your buck(s)

if something that you buy gives you more bang for your buck, you get more value for your money by buying this product than from buying any other

Wikipedia says

Bang for the buck is an idiom meaning the worth of one's money or exertion. The phrase originated from the slang usage of the words "bang" which means "excitement" and "buck" which means "money". Variations of the term include more bang for the buck and bigger bang for the buck. "More bang for the buck" was preceded by "more bounce for the ounce", an advertising slogan used in 1950 to market the carbonated soft drink Pepsi.


"He was very careful with his money" may give the flavour you require.


1. No one has suggested canny, but it's pretty much perfect


  1. careful; cautious; prudent:
    a canny reply.
  2. astute; shrewd; knowing; sagacious:
    a canny negotiator.
  3. skilled; expert.
  4. frugal; thrifty:
    a canny housewife

An example taken from the net

  • Customers are becoming an increasingly canny breed and quickly learn about the sale-reduction patterns of a retailer – waiting like vampires to suck blood at at the appointed hour

2. In days of economical hardship, where every penny counts, shoppers and customers alike are always on the look out to save money. An idiomatic expression (or compound word) which might fit the OP's requirements is bargain-hunter: a person who shops for items sold at cheap, esp discounted, prices.

The OP's example sentence could be reworded slightly

Nowadays, IT customers are like bargain-hunters. They demand more for less and probably think a zillion times before reaching for their pockets.

3. Alternatively, the expression smart shoppers or smart consumers could be used, compared for instance with frugal shoppers/consumers/customers, the expression sounds more modern and does not insinuate that buyers are hard up or prefer the cheapest deals.

enter image description here


  • As technology advances, prices retreat. Smart shoppers are seizing the opportunity to buy cutting-edge products at bargain prices.
  • Knowing where to shop, when to buy, what to buy, and how to use the decision-making process keeps smart shoppers on target. The computer and other types of hightech equipment are common purchases in today's Information Age.
  • They are skeptical and demand evidence of claims. Smart consumers understand that companies frequently use biased or incomplete data to substantiate their claims.

The following Ngram chart illustrates the popularity between smart shoppers, savvy, discriminating, thrifty, demanding and frugal shoppers from 1980 to 2007.

enter image description here

Of course, if the OP wants to emphasize that today's IT consumers are hesitant to pay for products they perceive as being superfluous or unnecessary, due to limited funds, then neither the adjectives smart nor savvy are really suitable.

  • 1
    "Demanding more for less" doesn't fit with austere, especially in the realm of IT. A prison cell (in the USA, at least) is austere. The stereotypical monk lives in austerity. An IT professional, however, wants the biggest bang for their buck - they'd happily buy the most extravagant tech if it fit within their budget and provided the most benefit per dollar. I'd even hesitate to call them bargain-hunters - a good IT professional would forego a bargain if a pricier alternative performs justifiably better. The goal isn't to spend minimally, it's to spend efficiently.
    – talrnu
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 1:46
  • @talrnu My original answer was frugal which I changed as soon as I saw it had been mentioned by Anemone, I opted for austere for a series of reasons. 1. It was a suggestion that did not appear in any of the related questions which I posted a link to. I could have picked the second or third best suggestion from any of those which had already been submitted. I chose a different slant.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 9:18
  • 2. Austere is one word, and it conveys a person who is indifferent to frills, fancy extras and positively dislikes extravagance. It does not mean the customer is unwilling to fork out cash, s/he just just doesn't want to spend their money foolishly. 3. It is neutral given the context. 4. The OP had discarded shrewed (which I actually think fits quite well), I therefore considered "austere" to be closely related to "frugal" and "shrewed". You win some, you lose some :) BTW Doesn't the OP speak about IT customers? Are they same as IT professionals?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 9:26
  • My point is that austere living explicitly eschews extravagance. IT customers (fair question - no, customers aren't necessarily professionals, I just misread), however, usually want as much extravagance as they can justify. An austere buyer would seek the simplest, no-frills technology just barely capable of solving their problem - I'd even call someone who pays more money for a less extravagant option an austere person. In other words, austerity has little to do directly with spending habits, only buying habits.
    – talrnu
    Commented Feb 18, 2016 at 19:24
  • 1
    @talrnu you've convinced me. I've changed my answer.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Feb 19, 2016 at 10:06

The word sophisticated fits well in this context. One definition is:

: finely experienced and aware

The same source offers some examples, one of which is:

“These students want the amenities they grew up with at home—their own rooms, their own baths, along with some of the finer things in life. They're a more sophisticated consumer.” —Camille Sweeney, New York Times Real Estate Magazine, Spring 2007


Barry Schwartz et al call those people maximizers in their famous paper Maximizing vs. Satisficing and Well-being in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. He opposes those people to the satisficer (p. 1179):

Consider the different effects that an expanding array of options might have on two people, one of whom aims to maximize his or her outcomes in that domain and one of whom aims to satisfice. For the maximizer, added options pose problems. One cannot be sure that one is making the maximizing choice without examining all the alternatives. And if it is impossible or impractical to examine all the alternatives, then when the maximizer gives up the search and chooses, there will be a lingering doubt that he or she could have done better by searching a bit more. Thus, as options proliferate, the likelihood of achieving the goal of maximization goes down. Further, the potential for regret is ever present, because the question the maximizer is asking him- or herself is not “is this a good outcome?” but “is this the best outcome?”.


The satisficer is looking for something that crosses the threshold of acceptability—something that is good enough. Adding options in a domain in which the satisficer has already encountered something good enough need have no effect; the new options may simply be ignored.


How about scrimpy?

Tending to scrimp; frugal; parsimonious. Random House

Alternately, consider provident

economical; frugal; thrifty. M-W


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