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Global consumers looking for value, sustainability and flexibility in 2020

Published
Jan 15, 2020
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The National Retail Federation (NRF) has teamed up with the IBM Institute for Business Value to release a report profiling the major worldwide consumer trends that will help shape the industry in 2020, highlighting value,  sustainability and flexibility as top concerns for shoppers heading into the new decade.


Consumers around the world are increasingly concerned about sustainability - Instagram: @mallofamerica

 
According to the report, consumers can be split into four groups: value-driven, purpose-driven, brand-driven and product-driven.
 
The first two of these groups alone apparently account for 81% of all 2020 consumers, with value-driven shoppers – those who are most concerned about getting their money’s worth – making up 41% of the sample polled by NRF and IBM.

Purpose-driven consumers, who have no problem with paying more for a product if it reflects their values or lifestyle, represent 40% of those surveyed.
 
Present in smaller numbers were brand-driven consumers (11%), who tend to shop and spend more, and have higher concentrations in India, parts of the Middle East and Latin America, and product-driven shoppers (6%), who often rely heavily on research in order to make sure they are making the right purchase.
 
Interestingly, in the apparel and footwear sectors, the emphasis on value appears to be even stronger, with 46% of shoppers fitting into the value-driven mold when making purchases in these categories, and only 35% reflecting a purpose-driven mentality.
 
Brand-driven apparel and footwear consumers accounted for 11% of those surveyed, while product-driven shoppers represented 7%.
 
Sustainability and traceability also revealed themselves to be major concerns for consumers across age groups and shopper profiles, with 72% of survey respondents saying that they would pay a premium for brands that are sustainable and/or environmentally responsible and 71% claiming that they would do the same for brands that provide full transparency.
 
Overall, 57% of those surveyed said that they would be willing to change their purchasing habits to reduce their negative environmental impact.
 
The growing importance of sustainability also means that more consumers than ever are interested in supporting the establishment of a circular economy by renting items or purchasing pre-owned goods.
 
Although these trends are led by Gen Z and millennials, they once again proved to be popular across the board, with 70% of all survey respondents saying that they buy or would like to buy pre-owned, repaired or renewed products, and 60% stating that they rent or would like to rent products.
 
The way people are shopping is also changing. 71% of those surveyed said that they now shop in “micro-moments” – unplanned bouts of shopping that can occur wherever and whenever consumers are in the mood. 35% of respondents said that they indulge in shopping micro-moments at least weekly.
 
This relatively new approach has been facilitated by the range of different shopping and delivery options now offered by retailers and NRF also highlighted that flexibility has become a must for most consumers.
 
The fastest growing shopping method over the last few years has indisputably been buying online and picking up in store, an option used by only 11% of beauty and personal care shoppers in 2014, but 65% of the same kind of consumer in 2019. Similarly, among apparel shoppers, the figures were 17% in 2014 and 71% in 2019.
 
However, both in-store shopping and conventional, shipped online purchases have also seen strong growth in the period, proving that flexibility truly is the watchword moving forward.
 
In the 2015-2019 period, the percentage of consumers making conventional online purchases rose from 43% to 82% among personal care and beauty shoppers, while in-store shopping increased from 89% to 98%.

As for apparel shoppers, 87% made conventional online purchases in 2019, versus 65% in 2014, with in-store shoppers increasing from 87% to 98% in the same period.
 
NRF and IBM’s report is based on the responses of 18,980 consumers to surveys conducted in 28 countries, including the U.S., China, Japan, Canada, the UK, India, France, Germany and Brazil.

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