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In low-growth economies, companies must probe their customers to find out how changes in consumer behavior are creating significant sales opportunities. For example, more consumers than ever are using mobile devices for their purchases, and many of them are more interested in gaining an experience than simply acquiring a product or service. Unlike in the past, companies now need to look at not just the where and the who of consumption but also the how and the why.
The Accenture Institute for High Performance undertook extensive research to understand how companies can assess and quantify the extent of consumer behavior change to achieve high business growth in a slow-growth economy. We uncovered 10 dimensions of consumer behavior change that are affecting how and why consumers buy. These dimensions broadly point to three emerging groups—the online, networked consumer, the independent consumer and the cooperative consumer.
As companies learn how to take advantage of changing customer behavior, they can collectively contribute to economic growth wherever they operate, creating a virtuous circle of opportunities.
Learn more about our research and download the infographic
As part of our research, we surveyed 10,000 online consumers and 600 business executives from 10 countries—Brazil, China, Germany, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States. We also drew on two other sources: industry-growth leader analysis of the world's top 3,000 listed companies by market capitalization, and macroeconomic analysis with Oxford Economics. The findings are contained in Energizing Global Growth: Understanding the Changing Consumer. This report, a supplement, takes a deeper dive into the consumer categories and illustrates their characteristics using several case studies.
Growth opportunities triggered by consumer behavior change can be significant enough to help boost low-growth economies. With Oxford Economics, we analyzed two sectors to get additional insights into growth opportunities—the potential upside effect of growing tablet computer sales for the networked consumer, and that of increasing charitable giving for the co-operative consumer.
Three of the 10 dimensions that we uncovered point to the emergence of a networked consumer.
Connected consumers are always on, like a majority checks e-mail before going to bed at night.
Coproductive consumers are a factor in the means of production, by providing direct feedback to companies and helping to design products.
Social consumers interact with companies, institutions and each other through the Internet.
Four dimensions point to the independent consumer class:
Individual consumers spend to express their particular personality and uniqueness.
Resourceful consumers turn to new online platforms to buy used products, sell directly or participate in auctions.
Disconnected consumers like distance and want products and services like scented candles and cruise vacations.
Experiential consumers want new and different experiences, like traveling to new places and attending live events.
The remaining three dimensions cover the cooperative consumer:
Minimalist consumers reuse products or purchase second-hand, valuing access over ownership.
Conscientious consumers buy local and consider the environmental impact of products.
Communal consumers dedicated to causes with social impact appreciate businesses that do the same.
The growth opportunities released by consumer behavior change are significant enough to have an impact at the country level—and could help boost low-growth economies. Our analysis tests this by assessing the potential direct impact of the meteoric rise of tablet computer sales in 10 countries—assuming that the tablet market continues to meet the changing needs of the networked consumer till 2016. Our estimate was that this could be worth around US$61 billion, roughly equivalent to an economy the size of Croatia’s. Extrapolating from this estimate, we get a 0.16 percent increase in the gross domestic product by 2016, or US$97 billion, a welcome boost in these volatile times.
Core research team
Ivy Lee, Paul F Nunes, David Rublin, Kuangyi Wei and Sam Yardley
July 16, 2013
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