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Accenture: Rise of the ‘Resilient Consumer’ Requires More Nuanced Retail Strategies

Accenture surveyed more than 10,000 consumers in 16 countries and found that the “resilient consumer” is emerging and finding new ways to browse and buy.
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Accenture surveyed more than 10,000 consumers in 16 countries and found that although we’re living in a time of “lasting uncertainty,” the “resilient consumer” is uncovering new ways to protect and control what is most important to them.

As a result, consumer behaviors are becoming more complex. For example, a shopper may visit a grocery store to get core staples and still visit the farmers market every week to get high-quality produce that also supports local farms. While these behaviors may seem conflicting or contradictory on the surface, in reality, they show that consumers’ actions are becoming increasingly nuanced to better adapt to and represent their beliefs and values.

“To succeed in this market, retailers and brands should not overgeneralize when it comes to examining the drivers of consumer behavior,” said Jill Standish, Senior Managing Director and Global Lead for Accenture’s Retail industry practice in a statement. “Instead, they need to understand the nuances of the consumer as an individual — pay close attention to data and analytics — and use that insight to offer the right product and the right experience at the right price in the right places on the right channels.”

Evolving beyond traditional segmentation strategies empowers companies to embrace “life centricity,” which Accenture defines as “seeing consumers as multi-dimensional humans whose beliefs and choices reflect the complex and colorful tapestry of their lives.”

But before brands can do that, they must understand what consumers are actually thinking and feeling. The survey uncovered three core themes and takeaways:

1. Resilient consumers expect uncertainty for the long term

The majority (85%) of consumers believe they are currently living with uncertainty, and 52% of this group expect this uncertainty to last for more than 12 months. As a result, many consumers (68%) are overall more cautious about the decisions they make.

Through survey analysis, Accenture uncovered four consumer mindsets that reflected the positivity of their outlook and how much they’re “taking control” of their lives amid uncertainty. More than half of respondents were found to be taking a more conservative approach: 36% of consumers were Getting Focused because they skew older and middle class, and their disposable income has declined. One-quarter are completely Freezing because they feel powerless over circumstances and are bracing for more uncertainty and less disposable income.

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2. Despite uncertainty, consumers maintain a positive outlook

Although many consumers believe that uncertainty is a new normal, 44% acknowledged that recent challenges have created new opportunities for them. For example, 61% said they were trying new experiences or adopting new habits to improve their lives. That means they’re thinking critically about how they spend their disposable income.

Nearly three-quarters of consumers (73%) said they expect their disposable income to stay the same or improve over the next 12 months. That means consumers either plan to spend more, or pull back less, on spending in 13 out of 15 categories. Leisure travel, luxury products and eating out were among the discretionary categories that saw the biggest bump year over year.

3. Values still matter

In times of economic instability, some consumers may adjust their spending habits by either completely curbing spending in certain categories or shifting to more cost-effective brand options. But Accenture found that many consumers are unwavering in their dedication to the issues that matter most to them. Despite most (66%) of consumers revealing that they were most concerned for the national economy, the environment (63%) came out ahead of concern for personal finances (56%).

Most respondents (83%) also shared that they have increased their sustainable shopping behaviors over the past 12 months by buying better-quality goods that will last longer, purchasing reusable or refillable products and only buying products they need. Accenture recommended that brands and retailers develop offerings that tap into a hybrid of values, including personal economic value as well as sustainability, to address consumers’ increasingly complex goals and expectations.

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