By Christina Cheddar Berk, CNBC News Editor
Marketers beware . . . a recession-hardened consumer has turned the tables on you. Recent research from Deloitte reinforces the idea that manufacturers are selling their products to a new type of consumer. Forced to tighten their belts during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, consumers realized they weren't missing much. In fact, many are still regretting their wasteful habits and the amount of things they accumulated during the free-spending, pre-recession years. "There was a lot of pent-up guilt and remorsefulness on behalf of the shoppers in our focus groups," said Pat Conroy, vice chairman and Deloitte's consumer practice leader in the U.S. No doubt the depth and severity of this recession forged this new behavior. Some 40 percent of all Americans have been directly touched by the recession in terms of lost jobs, pay cuts or reduced hours. And they are working hard to rid themselves of the burdens of past debts. But rather be beaten down by this, consumers feel empowered. This new consumer no longer laughs at Depression-era grannies who reuse wrapping paper and gift boxes, and stash Sweet 'n Low and condiment packets in the cupboard. They are too busy re-washing their plastic baggies to use in the lunches they bring to work. They also take pleasure in beating retailers at their own game. The vast majority of Americans -- some 92 percent of those in the survey -- have made some kind of change in the way they stock their pantries. Under the old way of shopping, consumers bought products indiscriminately and often didn't know what items they had in their cupboards, forcing them to frequently throw out items because they bought too much, Conroy said. The new way of shopping is much more deliberate. Some 84 percent said they have become more precise in what they buy. This manifests in many ways. For example, many consumers traded down to private-label brands and found they were just as good, if not better, than the branded product. Consumers are now much more willing now to try private-label brands.