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Research report

Humans first. Consumers next.

3-minute read

Consumer resilience through volatility

Our recent survey of over 10,000 consumers across 16 countries reveals that some consumers are showing resilience—adapting to living with uncertainty on their own terms.

Understanding resilient consumers requires moving beyond traditional segmentation strategies that put consumers into neat, little boxes—category by category, brand by brand and occasion by occasion.

Instead, companies should embrace life centricity. This means seeing consumers as multi-dimensional humans whose beliefs and choices reflect the complex and colorful tapestry of their lives. And creating an organization that can move at the speed of life.

Once companies understand the different and even divergent ways that consumers are reacting to volatility with resilience, it gets easier to make sense of the seemingly conflicting signals they’re sending—and to meet their needs.

Understanding people to drive growth


expect the coming years to be a struggle


are more cautious about the decisions they make these days


say that challenges in recent years have created opportunities for them


are trying new experiences or adopting new habits to improve their lives

The roots of resilience

What’s behind the pockets of consumer resilience that we are seeing?

  1. Confidence in a better financial future. Seventy-three percent of consumers expect their disposable incomes to remain the same or increase in the next 12 months.
  2. Strong intention to spend across categories. Consumers plan to spend more (or pull back less) compared to last year in a majority of the consumption categories we analyzed.
  3. Unwavering concern for the environment. Consumers continue to focus on our planet. The environment is their second biggest concern after the national economy and well ahead of their personal financial situation.

Knowing the nuances

Our analysis uncovered a new way to look at segmentation, which can help companies understand consumers as real people. We discovered four consumer mindsets based on the positivity of their outlook on the future and how much they are taking control of their lives amid uncertainty.

  • Living in the moment
    These consumers are optimistic about the future and show their resilience by accepting the lack of control they have over their circumstances. They choose to enjoy life now.
  • Seizing opportunities
    This group is also optimistic. They demonstrate resilience and by exercising control and taking advantage of the opportunities presented by recent volatility.
  • Getting focused
    For this group, resilience is achieved by exercising control over their lives in preparation for difficult times ahead.
  • Freezing
    Whilst these consumers feel powerless over their circumstances, they show resilience by bracing for hard times ahead.

From human values to consumer trends

These consumer mindsets surface how people are living (and spending) with their values. This view reveals three surprising consumer trends—and how nuanced they are across the types of consumer resilience.

  • Taking trips to find human connection
    Months of being grounded during the pandemic had a profound impact on consumers, reminding them that travel is about more than the trip. It is about human connection. Even after a year of strong growth for the travel industry, 71% of consumers plan to sustain or increase their current spending on leisure travel in the next year, even while limiting spending across most discretionary categories.
  • Spending more on what matters to me
    A traditional demographic analysis based purely on income levels suggests that consumers, even those with high-incomes, plan to limit their spending on premium brands. However, a human view of consumer resilience reveals what traditional demographics miss. Consumers Living in the Moment plan to spend more on premium brands in the next year. They are most likely to trade up on alcoholic beverages, fresh foods and special occasion or “nice-to-have” clothing.
  • Caring for the planet without breaking the bank
    Eighty-three percent of consumers increased their sustainable shopping in the last 12 months.
    For 44%, saving money is the most important motivation for sustainable purchasing. Twenty-seven percent of consumers say that making environmentally-conscious choices is their top motivation. And 21% are equally motivated to purchase by saving money and making environmentally-conscious choices.

Tapping into life forces

Identifying pockets of resilience and acting on them with relevant offerings that drive growth requires different ways of thinking and working. Here are the fundamentals for getting started..

Reframe consumer understanding

Consumer companies should reframe consumer understanding and center on unique needs and lives rather than on industry lines, categories and sweeping demographic segments. Doing this is 100% non-negotiable for being life-centric and relevant.

Redefine the boundaries

With a life-centric understanding of consumers, companies have the insight—and the permission—to break free from the constraints of industry, category and product boundaries. They can look beyond the core. Explore adjacencies. Develop powerful partnerships. All to meet consumers where they are.

Reinvent the organization

Framing consumer understanding and recreating offerings is only lip service without the organizational muscle to make them a reality. Total enterprise reinvention is required. The whole organization—every employee in every function—should center on the purpose of fulfilling people’s needs.