Consumers take new view

30 September 2011

LONDON: Consumers around the world demonstrate divergent attitudes when it comes to the desirability of owning material goods and achieving prosperity, according to a report.

Johnnie Walker, Diageo's whisky brand, and Future Poll, the research group, surveyed 11,000 people aged 25-45 years old in 11 markets, including Brazil, China, South Africa, the UK and US.

Some 52% of respondents did not believe success was solely based on wealth, while 42% agreed that possessing material goods was not a sign of attaining such a status.

Another 88% of the panel concurred they can achieve more by working together with other people and 31% asserted making time to help others would be an indicator of accomplishment.

Equally, only 21% of interviewees outlined a willingness to advance even if this came at the expense of others, a figure "emphasising the shift from 'individual' to 'collective' gain," the study said.

Overall, 79% of adults questioned were confident solutions would be found to overcome major global problems, and the analysis thus argued a "bottom-up, solve-it-yourself culture is emerging".

"As we face collective challenges such as climate change, financial crises and population growth, people are recognising the value of collaborative solutions over individual gain," Gavin Pike, global brand director for Johnnie Walker, said.

Considerable variations existed within the results, however. For example, 72% of Chinese consumers thought affluence was linked to success, standing at 64% in Thailand and 61% for Lebanon.

Similarly, 43% of Vietnamese shoppers agreed their main aspiration was to progress professionally, a rating reaching 38% in China and 37% in Lebanon, versus a total of just 16% in the US.

By contrast, several nations were described as "ambitious altruists". In the US and Greece, 55% of participants did not think the consumption of goods could be equated with achievement.

In South Africa, 94% of people suggested success was defined by "giving back", rather than more self-seeking activities.

The study reserved the greatest praise for Spain, where many contributors are already displaying characteristics defining them as "co-operative collaborativists".

In evidence of this, 68% of the Spanish survey community did not believe owning specific products showed success, and 71% said the same concerning wealth.

Data sourced from Johnnie Walker; additional content by Warc staff