Customer Service Design Trends

Deloitte: The consumer is changing, but perhaps not how you think

Contrary to conventional wisdom, there’s been no fundamental rewiring of the consumer. The modern consumer is a construct of growing economic pressure and increasing competitive options.

THE consumer is changing.

They are more capricious and less loyal. They have less time but are more conscientious. They shy away from stores and prefer experiences over products. Today’s consumer is an entirely different animal—and unrecognizable from their peer from the good old days. This brand of conventional wisdoms has been proliferating in the marketplace for a few years now.

It appears as if there has been a seismic shift in the consumer’s mindset—and choices—a shift that has left the market asking:

“Who is this brand-new consumer?”

Woman astonished

There are even more clichés surrounding the millennial consumer.

They are often branded as being more narcissistic, more idealistic, more socially-conscious, and more experience-oriented than any of their preceding generations.

They have even been blamed for ruining everything from movies to marriage! 

They seem to have broken the mold of their similar-aged cohorts of past eras.

Amid this confusing and fast-changing narrative about the changing consumer, we paused to ask ourselves some hard-hitting questions to cut through the noise and arrive at the truth.

Has the consumer fundamentally changed?

If yes, in what ways have they changed? Is there a seismic difference in the changes that we are witnessing? More importantly, is the hysteria in the marketplace obscuring a much deeper and more fundamental change in consumer behavior?

It is with these questions in mind that we conducted a year-long study to go beyond the headlines and unearth more profound observations about the consumer that might have been either missed or misunderstood in the midst of the hype.

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Our findings debunked many conventional wisdoms about the new-age consumer. What we learned is that the consumer hasn’t fundamentally changed, but to the extent they are changing is because the environment around them is evolving, characterized by economic constraints and new competitive options. They’re changing because of the financial constraints they find themselves in. This, in turn, has been triggered by a rise in nondiscretionary expenses such as health care and education and the growing bifurcation between income groups. They’re also changing in reaction to the abundance of competitive options available to them, made possible by technology.

It’s this swirl of financial and marketplace dynamics that is heavily influencing the behavior of today’s consumer as opposed to a fundamental rewiring.


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