Consumers placing brands under scrutiny

18 June 2010

PARIS: Consumers around the world are still cutting back on purchases and are now also making more considered decisions about the brands they buy.

EuroRSCG, the agency, surveyed 5,700 adults in Brazil, China, France, Japan, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Overall, 54% of contributors admitted they were more anxious than a few years ago and a similar number were experiencing heightened concern relating to money, saving and their own future.

"To one degree or another, people in mature markets have grown sick of excess, tired of the constant push to accumulate more," the study said.

"The purveyors of hyperconsumerism promised happiness and ease; instead we are seeing record levels of stress and anxiety."

Despite this, 56% of the panel said the recession had reminded them what was "really important", while 31% thought the downturn would be positive for their own country, as did 24% for their personal situation.

A further 72% hoped to "improve the way they live" and 70% argued society was "too shallow", a perception that peaked at 79% in the US, 77% in France and 75% in the UK.

In keeping with these trends, 67% of participants expressed a desire to simplify their daily routine and 41% planned to adopt a "slower" lifestyle.

As part of this process, 72% were "shopping more carefully", 69% described themselves as "smarter shoppers" and 63% had become "more demanding".

Buying fewer disposable goods was a strategy that found favour among 54% of respondents, with 43% paying greater attention to the colour, feel and design of the items available in stores.

Conducting research online was another widespread activity, and 62% of individuals featured in the results regularly searched for information on the web before picking between competing alternatives.

Seven out of ten of those interviewed also suggested that saving made them happy, although 69% had not been able to set aside as much money as they would have liked.

Some 38% derived a sense of satisfaction for having reduced the amount of products they bought during the financial crisis, climbing to 49% in the US and 52% in Brazil.

Looking ahead, 48% did not intend to return to their old habits during the recovery, and 43% were seeking to rely less on credit cards. 

A majority of adults are also now emphasising the environmental and social credentials of brands and expressed a more pronounced interest in how and where they are made.

Most also wanted to "feel good" about the firms they did business with, and 57% afforded such a status to corporations that shared their values.

Elsewhere, 49% preferred to support organisations with a "reputation for a purpose beyond profits", and 65% believed they had a "responsibility to censure unethical companies by avoiding their products".

Indeed, while 64% took the view that making eco-friendly choices was a favourable emotional experience, just 30% agreed with this assessment for purchasing luxury brands.

"Large numbers of people are dissatisfied with the direction in which society is headed and with their own personal lifestyles," EuroRSCG's study concluded.

"They still want more, but now they are defining that differently. Not more shiny trifles and mountains of disposable consumer goods, but, rather, more meaning, more deeply felt connections, more substance."

Data sourced from EuroRSCG; additional content by Warc staff