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UK consumers will prioritise affordability, ethics and experiences post COVID-19

Five new consumer segments will emerge beyond the COVID-19 pandemic according to the third edition of the EY Future Consumer Index, a monthly survey tracking the sentiment and behavior of 14,074 people across 18 countries.1 Each segment reflects the different ways in which consumers expect to be living their lives beyond COVID-19, how they will make choices, and what really matters to them.

The survey finds that craving stability is a rising trend, with 40% of consumers keen to "get to normal" – doubling over last month's survey results (20%). However, half (50%) of consumers still expect their lives to change significantly in the long-term, while 53% say the pandemic experience has led to a re-evaluation of their values and how they look at life.  

According to the EY Future Consumer Index, the five new consumer segments that have emerged as a result of these changing sentiments are:

  • Affordability first: These consumers want to live within their means and represent 30% of the cohort. They are the most pessimistic segment in their perception of how long it will take their country to recover and for financial stability to return. More than half of them identify price as increasing in importance.
  • Health first: These consumers (26%) prefer brands and products they trust to be safe and minimize unnecessary risks. Fifty-seven percent say they now pay more attention to how healthy the products they buy are for them.
  • Planet first: Most likely to change the products they buy, these consumers (17%) would pay a premium for high-quality, ethically sourced and sustainable goods. Fifty-nine percent intend to shop more locally in the long term.
  • Society first: Consumers in this segment (16%) believe that everyone should work together for the greater good, with 73% of them prepared to change their behavior in order to benefit society. They prefer to buy from organizations that are honest and transparent about what they do.
  • Experience first: Intent on living for the moment, these consumers (11%) are the least anxious about their health and finances. Two-thirds of them feel comfortable returning to a mall just days or weeks after the pandemic has stabilized in their country.

Kristina Rogers, EY Global Consumer Leader, says:

"Organizations will need to work out how to serve a more value-conscious, health-conscious consumer, but also a consumer who demands purposeful brands that reflect their environmental and social values. Business leaders should focus on reshaping their portfolios so that they are relevant to the future consumer, providing digital customer journeys that reflect the way consumers will behave and creating the transparency needed to secure consumer trust."

Consumers expect to make deep and lasting changes, with 62% indicating that they will be more aware and cautious about their physical health and 58% increasingly focusing on value for money in the future. These are not new drivers of behavior and preference, but the EY Future Consumer Index suggests that consumers will become much more committed to their values.

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