• World Biz Magazine

EY: CONSUMERS ARE MORE CONCERNED ONE YEAR INTO THE PANDEMIC



- People are more worried about their health, families and futures

- Globally, 9% of respondents do not intend to take the vaccine

- Affordability and health will remain priorities for consumers


The sixth EY Future Consumer Index, a survey of 14,500 consumers across 20 countries fielded in January-February 2021, found that consumers are more worried than four months ago about their health, their families and their futures. One year into the pandemic, the Index found that consumers will still prioritize affordability (32%) and health (25%), over the planet (17%), society (14%) and experience (12%) in the future.


Consumers are more concerned, not less

The share of people who think they will live in fear of the COVID-19 pandemic for at least another year has risen from 37% (October 2020) to 40% (February 2021), despite vaccines being rolled out. The Index also found that because of the pandemic, people are increasingly concerned about the health of their family, access to necessities, personal finances and basic freedoms. The level of concern differs around the world. Respondents in India and Brazil have consistently been the most concerned overall (more than 90% of consumers) throughout the pandemic, while people across other countries are now more worried about their family's health than they were four months ago (up 4% in the US and 5% in Japan). Respondents in China and Germany said they are increasingly worried about their finances (4% increase) and freedom to enjoy life (more than 10% increase), since October 2020.


Kristina Rogers, EY Global Consumer Leader, says:

"One year into the pandemic, almost half of consumers believe post-vaccine life will be better than before the pandemic. In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic may have accelerated changes that were already underway: moving out of cities, shopping online more and prioritizing health, affordability and sustainability. Companies now need to understand where consumers are going next and be bolder in accelerating their transformation, by redesigning their business around how people live, not what they buy."


Sentiment about vaccines vary by geography and income groups

Most (91%) global respondents do intend to take the vaccine, but 25% said they have "reservations" and 9% don't intend to take it at all. The latter goes up to 15% in the US and 19% in France but down to 3% in China, 5% in Brazil and 6% in the UK. Top reasons influencing global sentiment include being worried about potential side-effects (29%) and not trusting its safety (19%).


Feelings about the vaccine are also polarized between high- and low-income consumers, which correlates with institutional trust. According to the global survey, only 43% of low-income respondents plan to get the vaccine as soon as it is available to them (compared to 54% of high-income respondents). This may relate to 37% of low-income respondents having little or no trust in government compared to 28% of high-income respondents.


Despite concerns, a majority of respondents (56%) would be more likely to shop with retailers that require employees to take the vaccine, while 48% of respondents think that those who refuse to take the vaccine are acting selfishly.


Most consumers will prioritize affordability or their health

Beyond the pandemic, affordability (32%) and health (25%) will remain priorities for consumers when shopping. This is aligned with responses from June 2020, when 30% of respondents said they will focus on affordability and 26% on health, over sustainability, societal impact and experience.

  • Affordability. More than half (58%) of respondents plan to be more aware and cautious of their spending in the longer term and 63% say price will be the most important purchase criteria for them three years from now.

  • Health. Fifty-seven percent of respondents want to make healthier choices in their product purchases in the longer term; 43% say health or "what's good for me" will be the most important purchase criteria for them three years from now. Sixty-two percent are willing to share personal data for healthier product recommendations.

  • Sustainability. Forty-nine percent will prioritize the environment and climate change in how they live and the products they buy; for 26%, sustainability will be their most important purchase criteria three years from now.

  • Social impact. Fifty-six percent will be more likely to buy from companies that ensure what they do has a positive impact on society; 38% will buy more from organizations that benefit society, even if their products/services are more expensive and 69% believe brands must positively change the world.

  • Experience. Thirty-seven percent will be less inclined to get involved in experiences outside the home (e.g., going to a bar, a movie theater) on account of health and safety concerns; 76% have changed the way they stay entertained.

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed consumer behavior and has not just driven "consumption at home" through e-commerce. Consumers are now building their whole lifestyles around their homes as centers of gravity where they work, play and stay healthy. More than half of respondents (56%) plan to stay fit at home beyond the pandemic, while a third (33%) plan to upgrade appliances and furniture and 30% hope to work more from their home in the future.


EY exists to build a better working world, helping to create long-term value for clients, people and society and build trust in the capital markets. Enabled by data and technology, diverse EY teams in over 150 countries provide trust through assurance and help clients grow, transform and operate. Working across assurance, consulting, law, strategy, tax and transactions, EY teams ask better questions to find new answers for the complex issues facing our world today.


The EY Future Consumer Index tracks changing consumer sentiment and behaviors across time horizons and global markets, identifying the new consumer segments that are emerging. The Index provides regular longitudinal indicators and a unique perspective on which changes are temporary reactions to the COVID-19 crisis, those which point to more fundamental shifts, and what the consumer post COVID-19 might be like. The sixth edition of the EY Future Consumer Index surveyed 14,483 consumers across the US, the UK, Canada, Brazil, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, India, UAE, Saudi Arabia, China, Indonesia, Japan, Australia and New Zealand in Q1 2021.


For more details: www.ey.com/futureconsumerindex6