Consumers across the globe are giving priority to climate change and the cost of living and seek to take advantage of discounts and deals while also considering the sustainability credentials of their purchases, according to the latest EY Future Consumer Index.
More than half (54%) of respondents said they are planning to buy less in the future, with fashion accessories on top of the list of product categories consumers plan to spend less on (61%), followed by toys and gadgets (51%) and clothing and footwear (44%).
Around three quarters (73%) consider it as an effort to save money, with 49% saying that they do not need new items and 39% consider it as part of an effort to help the environment.
Colette Devey, EY Ireland Partner and Consumer Products and Retail Lead, stated, "This latest Future Consumer Index reveals a more purposeful consumer, keenly aware of both ongoing cost-of-living issues and the impact of climate change.
"Consumers are carefully considering what and where they buy, prioritising value for money, sustainability and asking themselves if a purchase is really necessary."
Six in ten (61%) respondents globally are planning to take part in Black Friday, Singles’ Day or similar sales campaigns as festive season sales events are becoming even more attractive to consumers, the report said.
Seven in ten (71%) plan to hold off on making some purchases until these periods, compared with half (48%) in November 2021.
The report also found a 16% increase in consumers shopping 'mostly or only online' this festive season, while shoppers purchasing items 'mostly or only in-store' declined 14%.
This trend offers businesses the opportunity to explore technologies like Generative AI to meet their consumers needs.
Devey stated, "Whether that is hyper-personalisation of websites (making them unique to each individual visitor) or retailers using AI to offer clothing try-ons or to preview furniture in a consumer’s own home, there are a myriad of possibilities– and it is the businesses that seize the opportunity that will continue to delight the future consumer of tomorrow."
Elsewhere, more than four in ten (42%) global consumers are thinking of changing the food they eat because climate change has pushed up prices or restricted the availability of goods, the study revealed.
Almost three in ten (29%) say they have been forced to make new choices already.
More than two-thirds (67%) of respondents attribute their efforts to drive change to their deep concern for the fragility of the planet.
According to the report, older generations are more active in adopting lifestyle behaviours to reduce their impact, with 65% of baby boomers bringing reusable bags to the store compared with just 43% of Gen Z.
However, when it comes to spending more sustainably, younger generations are more willing to pay a higher price.
Devey added, "Historically, there has been a gap between intention and action for governments, companies and consumers in their efforts to address sustainability.
"However, consumers are now increasingly willing to take sustainability actions which will either save them money or which do not cost them, and are more willing than ever to comply with government schemes which are designed to encourage sustainable behaviour."