Consumers are fretting over inflation and the ongoing increase in the prices of “common, everyday goods,” according to EY’s most recent Future Consumer Index sentiment report, which added that shoppers are also craving experiences and a bit of escapism after two years of pandemic-induced lockdowns.
The EY research showed that consumers “are becoming more selective and prefer to purchase from brands that align with their values,” a spokesman said. When compared to the global respondent set, the survey found U.S. shoppers to be more consistent in how they react to price hikes across a variety of product categories.
“U.S. consumers stayed more consistent in purchasing habits compared to their global counterparts, particularly in packaged foods, non-alcoholic beverages, beauty/cosmetics, personal care, clothing and gas/fuel,” EY said in its report, adding that shoppers in the U.S. were also consistent in purchasing nonessentials, possibly a result of “the ‘experience-first’ mind-set that almost 25 percent of U.S. consumers are embracing.”
In the comparison, EY said shoppers in the U.S. were “much more likely to spend on experiences than their global peers” — 49 percent versus 42 percent, globally. The report also revealed that U.S. consumers are feeling more lonely as compared to before the pandemic (42 percent versus 37 percent, globally).
Digging into shoppers’ spending habits, EY said the data show “two approaches for the future — hope for the best, plan for the worst.” With U.S. consumers, 46 percent are spending on nonessential goods and services, compared to 41 percent of their global counterparts. “U.S. consumers are also planning for uncertainty as they are spending more on canned, dried and frozen foods than their global peers,” the authors of the report stated while adding that “Americans are significantly more likely to be stockpiling in case of shortages, too — 44 percent say they are stocking up on groceries in case of shortages versus 31 percent of their global peers.”
When asked about their plans for the future, EY found the U.S. respondents were “least optimistic and enthusiastic in proactively shaping their future compared to the rest of the world.” The report stated that few in the U.S. “have plans to advance their careers, begin a new hobby, or start their own business. However, they do plan to invest more in their retirement plans than global consumers.”
The authors of the report said this sentiment demonstrates that U.S. consumers “are becoming increasingly negative about the future due to ongoing inflation and uncertainty as well as traditional milestones like buying a house are becoming out of reach.”
In regard to career and job flexibility, EY researchers found that both U.S. and global consumers “highly value flexibility when considering a future role.” The report also noted that U.S. consumers “place importance on purpose and company culture more than compensation when compared to their global peers.”
“The U.S.’ top considerations strongly reflect Gen Z’s priorities as well as forecast how they will proactively shape future ways of working,” the report stated.