According to the report, 42% are considering changing the foods that they eat due to the effects of climate change on price or availability, while 29% have already been forced to make different food choices.
In addition, some 56% of respondents believe that consumers should be pushing companies to achieve better social and environmental outcomes.
“We are now seeing a tangible change in consumer perceptions and behaviours,” commented Kristina Rogers, EY global consumer leader. “They are not just looking to consume more sustainably, but are having to adapt their lifestyles to help address the challenges that climate change is bringing.
“Historically, there has been a gap between intention and action for governments, companies and consumers themselves in their efforts to address sustainability, but the real effects of climate change on people’s lives is narrowing that gap and will force an acceleration in the actions taken by consumer companies to build business resilience and support the necessary changes consumers will make in what they buy and how they buy it.”
The 13th edition of the EY Future Consumer Index surveyed more than 22,000 consumers across 28 countries.
It found that as many as 80% of consumers around the world remain ‘concerned’ about their finances, with 54% saying that they plan to buy less in the future, both to save money (according to 73% of respondents) and because they feel that they don’t need new items (49%).
However, 39% of respondents from across the globe attributed spending less to helping the environment, with fashion, clothing and footwear among the categories in which many are seeking to spend less.
Other ways in which consumers are seeking to stretch their budgets, EY’s study found, include cooking and entertaining more at home (up by 9% and 5%, respectively, compared to October 2022) and ordering fewer takeaway foods (43%).
Some 61% of respondents state that private-label products are helping them to save money – with just under two thirds (64%) noting that store brand products ‘satisfy their needs’ – however, the study found that consumer interest in private label has declined overall.
In fact, more than a third (35%) of consumers are increasingly willing to pay extra for brands that they trust – up by ten percentage points since February 2022.
With the festive season just around the corner, 61% of respondents plan to take part in events such as Black Friday and Singles’ Day, with 71% saying that they plan to ‘hold off’ from making some purchases until these events, compared to just 48% in November 2021.
“Consumers have proven, time and again, their ability to adapt to the cumulative disruption they have faced,” Rogers added.
“They are constantly re-evaluating what they deem to be essential and are increasingly avoiding non-essential impulse purchases, but experience remains critical as a deciding factor for consumers when choosing to shop online, rather than heading to a store.”