2018 Consumer Trends
In this article, we discuss consumer trends, by focusing on consumer behaviors as previously identified by Euromonitor International. The research consisted of an online survey conducted on our platform www.questia.ro and it was active between and 23 and 25 January 2018. The survey covered 500 respondents, with a +/- 4% margin of error when reported to the Romanian online population.
Euromonitor International launched Top 10 Global Consumer Trends for 2018, namely the Emerging Forces Shaping Consumer Behavior. The report suggests that this year we will witness shifting consumer attitudes and behaviors that will continue to cause disruption for business, with mobile technology and internet accessibility playing a key role in shaping these changes. Looking at these trends, we wanted to see whether they have an echo in the Romanian market as well.
In this manner, here are some of the trends that the report identified, as well as the results highlighting people’s perceptions of them. The first one is called adaptive entrepreneurs. This trend highlights that consumers are increasingly seeking flexibility in their lifestyles, and are prepared to take risks. This is especially keen on younger generations with an entrepreneurial nature, shifting away from the “traditional” 9-to-5 career towards one that affords more freedom. Many of us, regarding the age, aspire to be self-employed.
Regardless of our expectations, in many countries both in the Western and Eastern Europe, there is a high proportion of people who would prefer a safe, secure job. Despite improving economies, rising incomes, and falling unemployment, the gap between rich and poor is highly visible. Sadly, another trend includes the survivors. Those at the bottom of the pyramid remain mired in poverty, with many relying on food banks, second-hand items, and value-based retail formats to make ends meet. People experiencing food insecurity, including many with irregular incomes, the elderly, single parents and asylum seekers, are supported by a growing number of charity-run food banks and other forms of food assistance in Europe. Here, “social supermarkets” have emerged, which sell food with expired best-before dates, incorrect labels or damaged packaging at discounts of up to 50%. Even if the global expansion of grocery discounters such as Aldi and Lidl are well-documented, but discount variety stores are also doing very well.
Political attitudes all over the world are increasing together with social disparities. In this manner, social media shifts our lifestyle, behaviors and enhances a call out culture. “Hashtag activism”, while not new (the Twitter hashtag turned 10 in 2017), is rapidly gaining momentum as internet usage explodes and more people have access to social media. The global success of the #MeToo movement in the wake of recent sexual harassment scandals is a testament to the growing empowerment of consumers, who use their collective voice to fight injustice and call brands to account.
Below, we present some data to shed some light on these trends.
When it comes to the adaptive entrepreneurs, this segment of the population points to several factors in their rejection of traditional jobs and companies. For instance, wages are stagnant, increasing by 1% or less in many Western economies, such as the US, Germany, the UK and Japan, between 2011 and 2016. Youth unemployment has also reached an all-time high in many countries.
In our study, we see that the preference for stability is closely competing with the need to own a business, as the results are tight. Looking at age groups, we see that younger generations 18- 35 would prefer to be self-employed, while those 40+ choose stability.
Nevertheless, the work schedule seems to be in favor of flexibility. Only a quarter prefer the 9-to-5 schedule. Age patterns remain almost the same, youngsters valuing flexibility more and disrupting the traditional workplace schedule, on the rise of the ‘gig economy’.
According to the Euromonitor report, consumers have responded to austerity by making greater use of the growing number of resale shops, grocery discounters and value-based retailers. Social/charitable shops have a good awareness rate: almost 60% of respondents said they have heard about it and 90% said that they support such shops.
Although the declared rate of visiting such a shop is not high for social/charity shops (6.4%), discount stores remain the most visited stores for the survivors. Next, second-hand stores, outlet stores, and discount websites are frequently used by respondents when buying clothes. Yard sales are preferred by a minority group, as well as targeted Facebook groups that sell second hand or vintage shops. Here, is a matter of taste, rather than price.
When it comes to the call out culture, not only are consumers utilizing social media to highlight bad practices, in countries like U.K. or Germany, they are voting with their wallets to force companies to take a stance on current issues, from refugees and climate change to transgender rights. In Romania, this culture is on the rise, especially fueling the recent protests from 2017 and 2018.
Most people declare they sign petitions online as much as they can. Most of them also post on Facebook or other social media platforms when discussing subjects that interest them most. Some, but not that many, support online awareness campaigns. See our results regarding the #metoo movement in Romania, here.
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