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Trade Talk: Checking in with global consumers

Article ID:
January 2014, page 10
Joseph Rydholm, Quirk's Editor

Article Abstract

This article highlights a few of the findings from the Euromonitor's Global Consumer Trends survey for 2014.

Though no one is whistling “Happy Days Are Here Again,” as we turn the calendar to a new year, it does seem that the worst of the recession is behind us here in the U.S. Globally, things have largely stabilized as well, though low rumblings of economic and/or territorial issues in China aren’t going away.

As for other issues on the horizon, the World Economic Forum Outlook on the Global Agenda 2014 ranked the following as the top trends for the coming year, by global significance:

  1. Rising societal tensions in the Middle East and North Africa
  2. Widening income disparities
  3. Persistent structural unemployment
  4. Intensifying cyber threats
  5. Inaction on climate change
  6. The diminishing confidence in economic policies
  7. A lack of values in leadership
  8. The expanding middle class in Asia
  9. The growing importance of megacities
  10. The rapid spread of misinformation online

While these and other potential factors loom, consumers around the world have generally started to loosen their purse strings a bit, though our addiction to bargain-hunting, which the recession has fueled and the Internet and smartphones have made possible, endures.

As consumers move from just getting by to getting more out of life, what’s on their minds? One set of viewpoints comes from research firm Euromonitor, which has released results from its Global Consumer Trends survey, in which the lifestyle traits of 16,300 online consumers in nine major developed and emerging markets – Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Russia, the U.K. and the U.S. – are examined.

As taken from Euromonitor press materials, here is an overview of some of the findings (an entry in the December issue’s Survey Monitor section – “What’s coming in 2014” – also had a look at some of the survey data).

Consumer spending intentions. Even in developed markets, where economies have been hit hard, younger consumers are twice as likely as their older counterparts to anticipate increasing their spending in the next 12 months (20 percent of those under 45, compared with 11 percent of those over 45).

Shopping attitudes and key product preferences. Consumers continue to be interested in value in the form of high quality, especially as represented by strong brands and low prices. Independent consumer reviews are eclipsing traditional media, such as TV ads, as the most influential marketing channel in consumers’ minds.

Consumer technology access and activities. Online shopping continues to gain traction among consumers: over 80 percent have now purchased apparel, shoes or consumer electronics online at least once, if not more frequently.

Meal and snack preparation and preferences. Although the availability and acceptance of ready meals and takeout is increasing, consumers are still sitting down to home-prepared meals not just weekly, but daily.

When shopping for food, consumers look for “added vitamins or fiber” on labels and shun artificial ingredients, particularly in emerging markets.

Healthy living patterns. Overall, global online consumers tend to have positive perceptions of their health, particularly in emerging markets. Weight management and dieting is also on the radar for global consumers: 44 percent actively monitor their weight and 23 percent are on a formal diet.

By the way, if you don’t already, you should subscribe to the feed for Euromonitor’s blog ( It’s an oft-updated and consistently interesting source of analysis of demographic, economic and social trends. And best of all, it’s free!

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