2018 Global Consumer Insights Survey

Explore the findings of our annual consumer behaviour survey of over 22,000 online shoppers in 27 territories across the globe.

Key findings

Since 2010, PwC has annually surveyed thousands of consumers around the globe to track shopping behavior. In this year’s survey, we reached out to more than 22,000 consumers in 27 territories across the globe.

What they told us is they are optimistic about their local economies and plan to spend more or the same for purchases and experiences, mostly at a brick-and-mortar store or online with mobile devices. Respondents are also willing to pay extra for personalised services, like same-day or quicker shipments, rely on their social networks for inspiration and are ambivalent about the use of artificial intelligence and the use of technology, particularly when it is used to track their shopping habits. 

About the Global Consumer Insights Survey

This year we decided that a new umbrella term for our findings was warranted: PwC’s Global Consumer Insights Survey. We want to acknowledge that the once bright lines demarking retailers, manufacturers, technology companies, logistics service providers, and healthcare organisations are becoming more and more obscured as consumers are more open than ever to non-traditional solutions. 

Consumer optimism

Despite the much publicised ‘new normal’ that’s tamping down consumer spending, the data says that consumers are very confident about the next few years.

In fact, when we ask consumers about their impression of the overall economy in their territory for 2018, one-third say that the economy will perform better than the previous year while 41% say the economy will perform the same. We also ask survey respondents to quantify their personal spend in the next 12 months, and almost three-quarters say they plan to spend more, or the same, than the previous 12 months. 

Explore consumer optimism

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is moving very rapidly into the consumer sectors. Already, more and more shoppers are using so-called ‘voice commerce’ on home-based devices to replenish household supplies and groceries. AI is also helping stores optimise real-time inventory and improve shelving techniques. The technology is also transforming logistics and delivery as well revolutionising how companies profile and segment customers. In the next two to three years, the industry’s first movers will capture major advantages over the laggards. PwC’s latest research offers insight into how fast AI is gaining ground and which consumers are the most likely early adopters. 

Explore artificial intelligence

New business models

This was the year that many retailers came to terms with the rise of online commerce. Yet retailers of all stripes can still prosper, as e-commerce still represents just a fraction of all of global business-to-consumer commerce. The key is identify two to three competitive advantages that can provide the same sort of seamless types of interactions experienced online. In our latest research, we outline some of the latest business models that allow consumer packaged goods and retailers to compete with the e-commerce titans.

Explore new business models 

Consumer trust

PwC’s Global Consumer Insights Survey points to the soaring importance of social media – shoppers trusting the collective opinions of strangers – and the challenge, for brands and retailers alike, to be seen as authentic and trustworthy.

The issue of trust should also be top of mind for executives as they consider how to deploy new technology and services to bolster the customer experience while protecting the security of an ever-expanding trove of consumer data. 

Explore how consumer trust is changing

New consumer habits

Behavioural researchers have found that habits are essential to human happiness and accomplishment. Without steady habits, we’re easily overwhelmed in many walks of life by the sheer array of options. That’s been good for business for manufacturers and retailers, which have long benefitted from stable consumer habits.

Fast forward to today. Digital disruption has spurred a creative reinvention of consumer habits over the past few years, collapsing some routines and creating entire new consumer behaviours. This article explores where habits are developing and changing the most—channels used to shop, delivery speed of online orders, and inspiration of purchases—and how companies can benefit by adjusting their businesses accordingly.

Explore new consumer habits 

Delivery expectations

According to our latest survey results, e-retailers have raised shoppers’ expectations for fast, flexible and reliable shipments of their purchases. Consumers, particularly older shoppers, are willing to pay more for same-day or faster delivery and are indifferent of who’s doing the actual delivering.

The good news is that there is plenty of room for winning solutions to emerge – not only among consumer firms and retailers, but among the myriad transportation and logistics providers handling various stages of the shipping supply chain. 

Explore delivery expectiations 

"Brands have to think about what's the way for them to engage so that they come off as being authentic and caring."

Rick KauffieldPrincipal, PwC US

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