We're living in a decade defined by change, uncertainty and instability, but also by resilience. Through the economic and geopolitical disruption that followed the global COVID-19 pandemic, people have shown time and again they have an extraordinary ability to adapt. The best companies have shown this too. Over the last few years, they’ve worked hard to stay relevant as consumer needs, behaviors and budgets have changed, and in many ways transformed.
Now we could be on the brink of another historic disruption, one that could test that resilience and adaptability to its limits. This latest edition of the EY Future Consumer Index explores the ways that people around the world are changing their behavior in response to the growing reality of climate change.
The Index shows the extent to which consumers are feeling the impact of a changing climate in their daily lives. The increasing frequency of high temperatures, fires, droughts, floods and strong winds are affecting their homes and livelihoods, their access to water, the food they normally buy, the cost of everyday items, and their plans for the future. Many people are actively thinking about changing how they live and consume.
Some are following up with action, and the direction of travel is becoming clear. The Index reveals signs of a shift from mitigation to adaptation, from “I’ll do what I can to reduce the effects of future climate change” to “I need to make changes because climate change is impacting me now.” We’re seeing this pivot across all geographies and generations.
As a result, consumers are forming new attitudes around what they are willing to pay for sustainability, how closely they will scrutinize brands, and what companies they trust. These changes in attitudes will ultimately become changes in behavior. How quickly and how significantly remains to be seen, but our data suggests another wave of disruption is about to break.