Study Highlights

Havas Worldwide Introduces the New Consumers: Key Characteristics and Findings

The New Consumers are smarter, more empowered, and more demanding than previous generations of shoppers. They make full use of online tools to connect with others and score the right buys.

  • 69% of global respondents to Havas Worldwide New Consumer study say they are smarter shoppers than they were a few years ago.
  • 63% are more demanding shoppers than they used to be.
  • 62% do lots of consumer research online—e.g., seeking out product info, reviews and ratings, price comparisons.
These consumers increasingly look to their peers for guidance and support when shopping.

  • 79% read consumer product feedback/reviews online before making a purchase.
  • 57% trust customer reviews more than “expert” reviews.
Anxiety levels remain high:

  • 54% feel more anxious in general compared with a few years ago.
  • 55% worry about their future or their family’s future more than they used to.
  • 47% have become more worried about not being able to keep up with the cost of living.
  • 41% worry about not having enough money to retire on.
The New Consumers are deeply dissatisfied with the status quo and are seeking change in their personal lives and in the world around them.

  • 58% think society is moving in the wrong direction.
  • 69% worry society has become too shallow, focusing on things that don’t really matter.
  • 60% believe society has grown intellectually lazy, while 67% believe we have grown physically lazy.
  • 59% worry people have become too disconnected from the natural world.
  • 47% wish they could start fresh with an entirely different lifestyle.
The New Consumers feel disconnected and even alienated. They are looking for a stronger sense of community and belonging.

  • 59% worry we are losing our ability to engage in civil debate, saying people are no longer willing to consider others’ points of view.
  • 51% would like to be part of a truly important cause.
  • 43% sometimes feel they don’t have enough close friendships.
  • 80% feel it is very important that families eat at least one meal together each day.
The New Consumers have taken advantage of the downturn to consider moving down a new path, finding a better way forward in terms of how they consume and how they live their lives.

  • 56% say the recession has served to remind people of what’s really important in life—and that’s a good thing.
  • 72% are making an effort to improve the way they live.
  • 71% are trying to improve who they are as individuals.
  • 50% are actively trying to figure out what makes them happy.
In spite of (or perhaps because of) their anxiety, people have resolved to change the status quo and take greater control of their present lives and futures. A primary way in which they will do this is through their consumption choices—their strongest means of power and influence. We are seeing the advent of “proactive mindfulness”:

  • 72% are shopping more carefully and mindfully than they used to.
  • 54% are paying more attention to the environmental and/or social impact of the products they buy.
  • 51% are more interested today in how and where products are made.
  • 45% are willing to pay a slightly higher price for products that are socially or environmentally responsible.
They are eager to reduce their negative impact on the environment and on other people:

  • 64% say making environmentally friendly choices makes them feel good.
  • 72% feel good about reducing the amount of waste they create.
  • 54% are making an effort to buy fewer disposable goods.
  • 65% believe they have a responsibility to censure unethical companies by avoiding their products.
  • 51% avoid shopping at stores that don’t treat their employees fairly.
  • 57% say it makes them feel good to support local producers, artisans, and manufacturers, and 45% say it is important to buy locally produced goods.
They are turning away from overconsumption and mindless excess in favor of a more considered approach to spending.

  • 70% say saving money makes them feel good about themselves, while just 30% say the same about buying luxury items.
  • 48% are determined not to go back to their old shopping patterns even after the economy rebounds.
  • 43% (60% in U.S.) are committed to reducing their use of credit cards over the long term.
  • 38% (49% in U.S.) are deriving a sense of satisfaction from reducing their purchases during the downturn.
The New Consumers are embracing “intelligent simplification”:

  • 70% respect/admire people who live simply (minimal purchases, debt free, etc.), while only 19% respect/admire people who live a high-luxury lifestyle.
  • 67% believe most of us would be better off if we lived more simply.
  • 68% no longer want a lot of bells and whistles on the products they buy; they would rather just have the functions they really need.
  • 46% wish their homes were less cluttered.
They seek to align with brand partners who share their personal values:

  • 50% say it is more important to them today to feel good about the companies with which they do business.
  • 57% prefer to buy from companies that share their personal values.
  • 49% prefer to do business with companies that have a reputation for a purpose beyond profits (e.g., Newman’s Own, The Body Shop).
  • 54% believe the most successful and profitable businesses in the future will be those that practice sustainability.
About the study
The New Consumer study was created by Havas Worldwide and fielded by Market Probe International in October–November 2009 in seven markets: Brazil (n=700), China (n=700), France (n=700), Japan (n=700), the Netherlands (n=700), the United Kingdom (n=700), and the United States (n=1,500). The survey was supplemented with extensive secondary research and local/regional insights from brand and strategy experts across our global network. Complete findings of the study, including country and Prosumer-mainstream breakouts, are available to Havas Worldwide employees and clients through the agency’s Knowledge Exchange.
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