Survey: Consumers Now Choosing to Live with Less

A recent global survey conducted by EY (Ernst & Young) illustrates consumers are re-evaluating big purchases these days. That said, consumers certainly aren’t shying away from spending on groceries.

“Online grocery shopping is a clear winner coming out of the other side of the pandemic,” Kristina Rogers, EY’s global consumer leader, told The Food Institute. “Food shopping was the category with the lowest online penetration pre-pandemic. The pandemic [however] has accelerated e-commerce in this space, and consumers are not turning back.”

EY recently launched its annual Future Consumer Index, a study of 16,000 consumers from around the world, which tracks changing consumer sentiment. In general, the survey found that the COVID-19 pandemic made consumers realize they can live with less and consume “better” rather than more. As a result, shoppers are spending less on unnecessary goods. Specifically, consumers are spending less on what they perceive to be unnecessary goods for financial (49%) and environmental (30%) reasons.

Plus, 60% of respondents said that, during the pandemic they got used to cooking at home again.

“Consumers were reacquainted with fresh food and home cooking,” Rogers told The Food Institute. “The question is: Will this last? Food companies will need to think about the balance between all of their channels, and whether or not HORECA [the hospitality industry] will rebound to pre-pandemic levels and whether or not the expected rise [of] ghost kitchens presents another significant opportunity.”

Among the study’s most noteworthy findings were:

  • The three most important purchase criteria in the next three years are “healthy,” “price” and “service”
  • 57% of consumers are willing to accept less choice in a grocery store if it brings down the price
  • 39% have spent more on grocery delivery services in the last six months
  • 32% will shop more online for groceries in the longer term
  • 26% of consumers are spending more on frozen food in the last six months

EY’s research also revealed some noteworthy trends involving different demographics, such as: 49% of Millennials, and 47% of Gen Z respondents said brands are less of a factor for them.

Meanwhile, younger generations plan to spend more this holiday season, as 38% of Millennials and Gen Z say buying things make them happy.

Ultimately, consumers appear poised to bring new values into 2022. As a result, Rogers said companies will need to analyze new shopping behaviors and rethink the way they engage with consumers.