Consumers are placing experiences before the acquisition of goods. How is the consumer changing?

It has become a major discussion piece in recent months; how has the consumer changed and what is different in their habits?

Based on a recent consumer survey, Guest Experience Management expert HGEM, found that 47% of consumers have reconsidered their perception of luxury because of climate awareness. Almost 4 in 5 respondents experience an element of guilt that comes with buying luxury goods, due to excessive packaging, which may be the reason why most customers (83%) now prefer to spend their earnings on experiences, rather than goods.

Sustainability has already impacted the grocery sector, with more people favouring local farm shops (36%) than premium supermarkets (32%), such as Waitrose or M&S, if money or location convenience were no object.

With hospitality, sustainability could become a key differentiator and selling point for brands, as people make choices more carefully, but for now, consumers are happy to pursue traditional luxury experiences, such as Michelin star restaurants and 5-star hotels.

For most sought-after food experiences, Michelin star restaurants were favoured by 70% of consumers, followed by local independent pub/restaurant (22%), high street favourites (5%) and street markets (3%). With regards to accommodation, half (50%) respondents opt for a 5-star hotel, nearly a quarter (24%) choose a luxurious country inn; 10% of consumers prefer a cottage rental, and only 8% would select to either stay at an ultramodern aparthotel or to go glamping.

As per the results of a monthly ‘Covid safety tracker’, HGEM are pleased to report that consumer confidence is at the highest it’s been since October 2020, with the average safety score now at 8.34, in contrast to 7.07 when tracking began last October.

How will all this translate into the new economy?

Fair to say that the consumer is seeking stronger experiences and will not accept standards which do not meet expectations. The consumer arguably does expect that work continued during the pandemic with companies raising their standards and offers.

The above does suggest that it will be the mediocre which gets squeezed and that the exceptional experience is what is desired.