Successful vaccination programmes and accelerated booster rollouts have given greater hope for a return to normal life, the eighth EY Future Consumer Index (FCI) reveals, with 69% of UK consumers looking forward to a feeling of normality. But ‘normal’ has changed, with consumers now acting with a heightened sense of awareness, not only of possible risks such as new variants but also the wider societal and environmental implications of what and how they buy.
Our earlier FCI reports saw the emergence of a cautious consumer, driven by the need to be frugal with cash and careful with their health. Concerns around health of family (82%), jobs (52%), freedoms (81%) and finances (68%) are receding since our last survey, the outcome is a more considered consumer with a growing sense that their spending will be increasingly driven by factors such as sustainability, social impact and actual need rather than affordability.
The desire for a better version of normal
UK consumers have had time and inclination to stop and reconsider what, and how, they buy. They are moving away from unconsidered consumerism and towards mindful consumption.
For 67% of consumers, behaviours adopted during the pandemic are their new normal, with almost half (49%) saying that the way they live will remain significantly changed in the long term.
We have seen a pivot of consumer values. In May the most important consumer segment, for 33% of UK consumers, was affordability first, followed by health first (24%) and planet first (18%). But priorities have changed since, with planet and affordability now equally ranked at 26% each, and health falling to 17% as vaccinations proved their worth.