Year to date, both IYC and FSCPX have managed to outperform the broader market. Comparatively, however, the mutual fund option has outperformed its ETF competitor by a comfortable margin.

Much of this outperformance is likely due to the mutual funds' active approach to navigating the consumer-focused sector of the market. This has allowed the fund to take aim at the fastest moving parts of the market such as the auto industry while at the same time reducing exposure to laggards such as Wal-Mart.

Ford ( F), which has gained nearly 50% this year, is listed as the FSCPX's ninth largest position. Meanwhile, the company is nowhere to be found among IYC's portfolio.

The successful active management of FSCPX does not come without a cost, however. Investors holding the mutual fund option will face a 1.10% expense ratio. Thanks to its passive approach to playing the consumer, IYC carries a far reduced expense ratio, charging investors only 48 basis points.

In the end, either IYC or FSCPX both make for a stable, conservative long-term bets on the continued recovery of the consumer.

Written by Don Dion in Williamstown, Mass.

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At the time of publication, Dion Money Management was long First Trust Dow Jones Internet Index Fund.

This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.

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