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Empowered consumers are prepared to make changes in response to supply chain disruptions and inflation

14/06/22

NEW YORK, 14 June 2022 – Consumer resilience has been put to the test over the past two years. The PwC June 2022 Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey finds consumers are continuing to adapt to supply chain disruptions and increasing inflation. The Survey captures the views of 9069 consumers across 25 countries and territories.

For consumers experiencing supply chain issues, such as lack of product availability or later than expected delivery, many say they are not hesitant to make a change.  More than one third, 37%, say they would go to different retailers to meet their needs, or if they are in-store shoppers, would switch to online.  Nearly a third, 29%, of online shoppers say they would give in-store retail a chance to better meet their needs, and 40% would use comparison sites to check product availability. 

Global uncertainties and supply chain issues are also leading many consumers to look more to their home markets.  Eight in ten respondents expressed a willingness to pay a higher than average price for products produced locally or domestically. 

So far, the majority of consumers surveyed are coping with higher inflation. Over 75%, expect to maintain or increase current levels of spending across most categories in the next six months.  Notably, 47% of respondents expect to spend more on groceries.  But in what may be a sign of what is to come, more than a quarter of consumers plan to reduce spending in a number of categories, including luxury/premium goods (37% of respondents), dining out (34%), arts, culture & sports (30%); and fashion (25%)

Overall, rising prices for groceries was the most prevalent issue with the shopping experience cited by consumers shopping in-store (65%) and online (56%).  More than half of consumers surveyed, 57%, say they almost always or frequently experience rising prices for groceries.  At 69%, US and Canada trail only South Africa (76%) and Brazil (74%) for countries with the most respondents experiencing grocery inflation. 

Supply chain issues were also seen as affecting the shopping experience, most notably being unable to purchase a product due to it being out of stock (online, 43%; in-store 37%).  Consumers also cite longer delivery times for online purchases (42%) and longer lines or busier in-store locations (36%)

Sabine Durand-Hayes, Global Consumer Markets Leader, PwC France, said: “Just as consumers continue to change their shopping behaviors and preferences, actively searching for the best shopping experience, retailers and manufacturers must move quickly to meet shifting demand and their own inflation and supply chain pressures.  We don’t see these pressures easing anytime soon. Agile businesses that can manage through multiple disruptions while keeping their focus on the demands of their customers are in the best position to succeed in this tumultuous environment.”

New consumer habits are taking hold

Consumers changed their lifestyle and purchasing habits as a result of the COVID pandemic and it appears many of these habits have become ingrained and will actually strengthen over the next six months.

Due to the pandemic, 63% of consumers surveyed said they had already increased their shopping online, while 42% decreased shopping in physical stores. Half of respondents were cooking at home more and 50% had increased home recreation/leisure activities.

Looking ahead, these consumers expect to do more of the same: 

  •  50% expect to shop more online – this is highest among core millennials (58%), young millennials (57%) and Gen Z (57%); lower among baby boomers (32%), Gen X (42%).  39% expect to continue online shopping at current levels;

  • 46% plan to cook more at home;

  • 41% will do more recreation/leisure activities at home;

  •  41% will buy more from retailers that provide efficient delivery/collection

  • 22% will shop less at physical stores; only 33% will increase in-store shopping

ESG factors along with data security strongly influence brand trust

Environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors continue to influence consumer perceptions.  For about half of consumers surveyed, a company’s actions related to ESG often or always influences their trust in the company or the likelihood to recommend the company or brand to others.  For purchase consideration, governance (41%) and social (40%) factors outweigh a company’s environmental commitment (30%).  ESG factors carry more weight for Gen Z and young millennials surveyed, and less for Gen X and baby boomers.

The most significant factors identified for fostering brand trust are around data security and the customer experience.  Protecting personal data is top ranked (by 58% of respondents) for impacting brand trust to a great extent – an increase of 11 points in the past six months.  ‘Always meets my expectations’ and ‘provides exceptional customer service’ were highly ranked by over half of respondents as well (53% and 52% respectively).

Virtual reality is in early adoption, but already having an impact

The impact of virtual reality (VR) and the metaverse as a consumer channel is just starting to be seen, but there are immense implications for companies and retailers.  Globally, 32% of consumers surveyed have used VR in the past six months (numbers are highest in China, 56%; India, 46%; and Qatar, 45%; and among Gen-Z and young millennials, both 39%).  Of these, more than half have used VR to play games or watch movies/tv shows (51%) or join a virtual world.  But almost a third (32%) of VR users say they have purchased products as a result of testing them/browsing in stores via VR and nearly two in ten (19%) have used VR to purchase luxury goods.  Moreover, 45% expect to increase their spend in the future via VR across six categories.

Sabine Durand-Hayes added:  “The convergence of physical stores with online shopping over multiple devices has defined consumers’ omnichannel experience.  Now VR and the metaverse are adding an entirely new dimension.  Although the metaverse is still an emerging channel, companies and retailers will increasingly need to consider it as part of their omnichannel presence.”

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Kent Miller

Global Corporate Affairs & Communications, PwC United States

+1 908-313-5037

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About the Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey

The 2022 Global Consumer Insights Survey is a biannual study seeking to keep a closer watch on changing consumer trends. For our Spring 2022 pulse survey, we polled 9,069 consumers across 25 territories (Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Hong Kong SAR, Indonesia, India, Ireland, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Thailand, United States, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam). The respondents were at least 18 years old and were required to have shopped online at least once in the previous year.

About PwC:  At PwC, our purpose is to build trust in society and solve important problems. We’re a network of firms in 156 countries with over 295,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, advisory and tax services. Find out more and tell us what matters to you by visiting us at www.pwc.com.

PwC refers to the PwC network and/or one or more of its member firms, each of which is a separate legal entity. Please see www.pwc.com/structure for further details.

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