Safety assurances, 'green' bona fides moving up list of consumers' concerns, survey finds

By Danielle Masterson

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images / Tang Ming Tung
Getty Images / Tang Ming Tung

Related tags consumer behavior Consumer attitudes Retailers

The report highlights the demand for convenience, the return to a new brick-and-mortar shopping experience, and the importance of getting and staying healthy.

5W Public Relations recently released its 2022 Consumer Culture Report​ that examined consumer spending culture, the biggest influences behind buying behaviors, and emerging trends.

The research was conducted by Censuswide, with 2,002 respondents aged 16+ across the US at the end of 2021.

Key insights 

  • 84% believe a retail outlets’ safety measures are important
  • 71% of consumers check brands’ green and ethical values before buying
  • 67% of consumers aged 16 to 24 admit to participating in passive shopping over the past year, while they're on a Zoom, scrolling Instagram, and while reading the news
  • 58% said knowing when they need something is their most important purchase driver
  • 52% prefer to find new products in-store rather than online.

Respondents aged 55+ were the most reserved age group when it comes to spending on non-essentials, with 43% reporting that they only spend their disposable income on necessary goods and services. Right behind them are 16 to 24 year olds, with 42% reporting that they are selective about spending their disposable income on goods and services. Alternatively, consumers aged 25 to 34 are the most likely to treat themselves, but aren't doing so overwhelmingly, with 38% responding they spent most of their disposable income on goods and services. 

"Millennials are the generation most likely to spend disposable income and the desire to splurge is up across the board from 2021," ​said 5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian. "The only category that saw a downward trend this year is splurging on travel—less than 2% from 2021—and more than half of consumers prefer to find new products in-store."

When it comes to making their purchases, 58% of consumers said when they need it is overwhelmingly more important in the decision-making process, while 29% said where they will buy it drives their decision.

While consumers are being very intentional about their shopping habits, they do appear to be consistently shopping. Just under 70% of consumers aged 16 to 24 admit to participating in passive shopping over the past year, while they're on a Zoom, scrolling Instagram, and while reading the news. Men participated in this shopping activity 10% more than women (48% compared to 38%), and more than half of consumers in the Northeast admit to passive shopping, more than any other geographic location surveyed.

The conscious consumer

When asked how often, when purchasing, consumers research the ethical and sustainable nature of brands and their supply chains, 71% stated they do this at least occasionally. Of that figure, around one in seven (14%) check out brands’ environmental activity every time they buy a product or service. A further 27% usually do this, with another 30% researching sustainability standards occasionally. 

When it comes to supporting self-stated purpose-driven brands, 46% consumers favor small and local businesses, charitable organizations (32%) and environmental protection & sustainability (31%). 

Over 20% prefer to purchase from minority - and Black-owned businesses and are most likely to search for and find information about these brands by using social media (39%). Consumers also rely on word of mouth (32%) and publications, broadcast media and blogs (21%).

Where does health fit in? 

Getting and staying healthy was also important for most people surveyed. According to findings, electronics and tech was the top category all age groups were most likely to splurge on. Health and wellness came in second for all groups except for 35-44 and 45-54, who ranked health at number 3. 

“New consumer landscape”

"These insights reveal an entirely new consumer landscape and one that's incredibly difficult for both established and emerging brands to crack," ​said 5WPR Consumer President, Dara Busch. "In comparison to our first survey in 2020 when young consumers were overwhelmingly ready to purchase an item the first time they saw it if they liked it enough, we're seeing consumers who are more timid. It is our job as an agency partner for consumer brands to get to the bottom of these insights and assist brands in better crafting their messaging to connect with these consumers."

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