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The rise of conflicted consumerism: Cost-of-living prompts consumers to weight up price versus principles in buying decisions

This Week

  • 69% of global shoppers place price as top consideration in their buying journeys
  • Yet, despite cost-of-livings pressures, 73% remain ‘sustainably-minded’ shoppers
  • Next day delivery or fast format fulfilment tops ‘sustainable’ shoppers’ eco vices
  • 45% would pay more for fast fulfilment, but 26% would pay more for carbon-neutral deliveries

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – Media OutReach – 15 May 2023 – A price versus principles paradox is creating a new cohort of ‘Conflicted Shoppers’, who are simultaneously demanding value for money as well as products and services from retailers that tap into their sustainable values, the latest research from Asendia, the leader in international e-commerce and mail delivery solutions, reveals.

Original research of over 8,000 global shoppers in Asendia’s ‘How To Sell Direct In The Age Of The Conflicted Shopper’ Report showed that price now tops consumers’ key considerations for 55% in their buying decisions, closely followed by value for money (54%). Price was most important for shoppers in Canada (68%), followed by the UK (56%), while German and Spanish consumers were most influenced by value for money (62% and 61% respectively). Yet, despite cost-of-living pressures, almost three quarters (73%) of global shoppers considered themselves to be sustainably-minded in their consumption habits.

Reduced consumption is both price and environmentally motivated

While 69% of global shoppers said they planned to cut back on spending in 2023 due to economic uncertainty, rising to 77% in France, consumers are also re-evaluating how and what they buy to minimise their environmental impact.

A further half (50%) plan to consume less but more sustainably by purchasing pre-loved or second-hand items in 2023, rising to 62% in Germany and 61% in France, while a further third (32%) intend to buy less by extending the life of the products they own by using retailers’ repair or upcycling and circular retail initiatives.

Renaud Marlière, Global Chief of Business Development of Asendia, commented: “There’s little doubt that cost-of-living pressures are forcing consumers to weigh up what values, such as sustainability and greener consumption, they can afford to maintain. But while household budgets remain squeezed, shoppers aren’t prepared to put price entirely before principals in their consumption habits.”

“This is creating what we’ve coined the conflicted shopper; consumers who seek value for money – acting with price-sensitivity and spending-caution – on one hand, but want to consume in line with their values on the other, opting for eco-conscious decisions across their buying journey, from product choice to fulfilment methods. Despite this seeming paradox, it means retailers now need to cater for both polar ends of the conflicted shoppers’ value spectrum if they are going to win custom, loyalty and lifetime value,” Renaud Marlière continued.

The value paradox

While 73% of global shoppers consider themselves to be sustainably-minded, rising to 76% in the U.S. and Spain, the same consumers who are mindfully shopping ‘green’ – with 47% buying organically, 41% buying eco-friendly products and 27% choosing low-carbon goods – are also displaying sustainability ‘vices’ within their consumption habits.

Almost a quarter (23%) were still choosing next day deliveries or fast fulfilment options, while a further 20% of Millennials and 23% of Gen Z who identified as sustainably-minded shoppers admitted to still buying fast fashion, despite being renowned for its damaging impact on the planet. Almost two fifths (17%) of ‘green’ Gen Z consumers were also choosing to buy denim, widely considered to be an environmentally-poor fashion choice.

Delivering on sustainability demands

And this value paradox is being exhibited not just in what consumers buy, but also in how they want their orders to be delivered. Global shoppers’ top consideration around international fulfilment was knowing where their order is being shipped from to better understand the cost and distance (carbon impact) of the product reaching them (33%).

When it came to improving deliveries, preparing orders with reusable-only packaging topped global shopper demands across international and domestic fulfilment (40% and 39% respectively), followed by offering 100% carbon-neutral deliveries (30% for international and 31% for domestic orders). While 45% of the global shoppers polled would pay more for faster fulfilment, 26% would pay more for 100% carbon neutral deliveries, while 19% would pay more for greener fulfilment options, even if the item took longer to arrive.

In 2022 Asendia announced it had reached 100% carbon neutrality through its carbon offsetting projects. It now offers carbon neutrality across all shipments carried out for international retail customers via its e-PAQ solution, a specialist range of international packet and parcel services designed for online retailers.

For further information on how brands can address demands around value and build international consumer relationships that better meet the needs of today’s conflicted shoppers, download the full report: ‘How To Sell Direct In The Age Of The Conflicted Shopper’ Report,.

Asendia is committed to putting the customer at the centre of everything it does, which is why it stands for trust, friendliness and ease of use as the key pillars representing its core values.

Research methodology

Original research of over 8,000 global shoppers in the UK, U.S., Canada, Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland and Hong Kong. Each individual market polled had a sample size of over 1,000 shoppers.

The research was conducted via online polling by Savanta on behalf of Asendia in February 2023.

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About Asendia

Asendia is one of the world’s leaders in international e-commerce and mail, delivering packages, parcels and documents to more than 200 destinations across the globe.

Combining the experience and expertise of our founding companies, La Poste and Swiss Post, Asendia brings together a wealth of international and local know-how. Asendia’s expertise is broad reaching encompassing different aspects of e-commerce, from webshop software and marketplace management to international logistics. Asendia is committed to sustainability, offsetting all carbon emissions including first-mile collection, last-mile delivery, returns, and building emissions, machinery, and business travel.

Asendia employs over 1,500 people in Europe, UK, Asia Pacific and the USA – a global network blended with a local presence.

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