Empowered Consumers Prepared to Make Changes

Consumer resilience has been put to the test over the past two years. The PwC June 2022 Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey finds consumers are continuing to adapt to supply chain disruptions and increasing inflation. The Survey captures the views of 9069 consumers across 25 countries and territories.

For consumers experiencing supply chain issues, such as lack of product availability or later than expected delivery, many say they are not hesitant to make a change. More than one-third, 37%, say they would go to different retailers to meet their needs, or if they are in-store shoppers, would switch to online. Nearly a third, 29%, of online shoppers say they would give in-store retail a chance to better meet their needs, and 40% would use comparison sites to check product availability. Global uncertainties and supply chain issues are also leading many consumers to look more to their home markets. Eight in ten respondents expressed a willingness to pay a higher than average price for products produced locally or domestically.

So far, the majority of consumers surveyed are coping with higher inflation. Over 75%, expect to maintain or increase current levels of spending across most categories in the next six months. Notably, 47% expect to spend more on groceries. But in what may be a sign of what is to come, more than a quarter of consumers plan to reduce spending in several categories, including luxury/premium goods (37%), dining out (34%), arts, culture & sports (30%); and fashion (25%). Overall, rising prices for groceries were the most prevalent issue with the shopping experience cited by consumers shopping in-store (65%) and online (56%).

More than half of consumers surveyed, 57%, say they almost always or frequently experience rising prices for groceries. At 69%, US and Canada trail only South Africa (76%) and Brazil (74%) for countries with the most respondents experiencing grocery inflation. Supply chain issues were also seen as affecting the shopping experience, most notably being unable to purchase a product due to it being out of stock (online, 43%; in-store 37%). Consumers also cite longer delivery times for online purchases (42%) and long lines or busier in-store locations (36%).

Consumers changed their lifestyle and purchasing habits as a result of the COVID pandemic and it appears many of these habits have become ingrained and will strengthen over the next six months. Due to the pandemic, 63% of consumers surveyed said they had already increased their shopping online, while 42% decreased shopping in physical stores. Half of the respondents were cooking at home and 50% had increased home recreation/leisure activities. Looking ahead, these consumers expect to do more of the same. 50% expect to shop more online – this is highest among core millennials (58%), young millennials (57%), and Gen Z (57%); lower among baby boomers (32%), Gen X (42%). 39% expect to continue online shopping at current levels. 46% plan to cook more at home, 41% will do more recreation/leisure activities at home, 41% will buy more from retailers that provide efficient delivery/collection, while 22% will shop less at physical stores; only 33% will increase in-store shopping.

Environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors continue to influence consumer perceptions. For about half of consumers surveyed, a company’s actions related to ESG often or always influence their trust in the company or the likelihood to recommend the company or brand to others. For purchase consideration, governance (41%) and social (40%) factors outweigh a company’s environmental commitment (30%). ESG factors carry more weight for Gen Z and young millennials surveyed and less for Gen X and baby boomers. The most significant factors identified for fostering brand trust are data security and the customer experience.

The impact of virtual reality (VR) and the metaverse as a consumer channel are just starting to be seen, but there are immense implications for companies and retailers. Globally, 32% of consumers surveyed have used VR in the past six months (numbers are highest in China, 56%; India, 46%; and Qatar, 45%; and among Gen-Z and young millennials, both 39%). Of these, more than half have used VR to play games or watch movies/tv-shows (51%) or join a virtual world. But almost a third (32%) of VR users say they have purchased products as a result of testing them/browsing in stores via VR and nearly two in ten (19%) have used VR to purchase luxury goods. Moreover, 45% expect to increase their spending in the future via VR across six categories.

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