Top-quality merchandise and rock-bottom prices are less important to global consumers than honesty and reliability by retailers, according to new research from Cap Gemini Ernst & Young.

The firm’s latest study – Searching for the Global Consumer: A European Study of Changing Lifestyles and Shopping Behaviour – found that:

• ‘Human’ values are central to successful business – more so than concepts such as price and service. Honesty, respect and reliability are the three most important factors by which consumers judge companies.

• In the minds of consumers, retailers are poorly differentiated, and many respondents could not name a favourite outlet in many of the different retail channels. For example, around 40% of Spaniards and one-third of Norwegians do not have a favourite supermarket.

• What retailers offer – especially in terms of price, service, product, access and the whole shopping experience – and what consumers want are considerably different.

• Women rate the qualities associated with shopping satisfaction more highly than men, and older shoppers do so more than the young.

CGEY noted similar results in Europe, the USA, Thailand and Australia. For example, both Americans and Europeans rated honest pricing more highly than low pricing: 64% of stateside respondents cited ‘honest’ as extremely important, compared with 54% for ‘low’; while the equivalent figures on the other side of the Atlantic were 58% and 38%.

Similarly, more consumers said ‘consistently good merchandise quality’ was important than ‘top quality product’ in both markets – 70% vs. 59% in the US; 67% vs. 48% in Europe.

Commented Fred Crawford, executive vp of CGEY’s consumer products, retail and distribution arm: “Our research makes it clear that companies that understand the ‘human values’-based needs of today’s consumer and offer sharp differentiation combined with promise execution can develop a value proposition that is meaningful to the new global consumer.”

Data sourced from: Daily Research News Online; additional content by WARC staff