- People are more worried about their health, families and futures
- Globally, 9% of respondents do not intend to take COVID-19 vaccine
- Affordability and health will remain priorities for consumers
The sixth EY Future Consumer Index, a survey of 14,500 consumers across 20 countries fielded in January-February 2021, finds that consumers are more worried than four months ago about their health, their families and their futures.
One year into the pandemic, the index finds that consumers will still prioritise affordability (32 percent) and health (25 percent), over the planet (17 percent), society (14 percent) and experience (12 percent) in the future.
The share of people who think they will live in fear of the COVID-19 pandemic for at least another year has risen from 37 percent (October 2020) to 40 percent (February 2021), despite vaccines being rolled out.
The index also finds that because of the pandemic, people are increasingly concerned about the health of their family, access to necessities, personal finances and basic freedoms. The level of concern differs around the world.
Respondents in India and Brazil have consistently been the most concerned overall (more than 90 percent of consumers) throughout the pandemic, while people across other countries are now more worried about their family’s health than they were four months ago (up 4 percent in the US and 5 percent in Japan).
Respondents in China and Germany said they are increasingly worried about their finances (4 percent increase) and freedom to enjoy life (more than 10 percent increase), since October 2020.
Most (91 percent) global respondents do intend to take the vaccine but 25 percent said they have “reservations” and 9 percent don’t intend to take it at all.
The latter goes up to 15 percent in the US and 19 percent in France but down to 3 percent in China, 5 percent in Brazil and 6 percent in the UK. Top reasons influencing global sentiment include being worried about the potential side-effects (29 percent) and not trusting its safety (19 percent).
Feelings about the vaccine are also polarised between high and low-income consumers, which correlates with institutional trust. According to the global survey, only 43 percent of low-income respondents plan to get the vaccine as soon as it is available to them (compared to 54 percent of high-income respondents). This may relate to 37 percent of low-income respondents having little or no trust in government, compared to 28 percent of high-income respondents.
Despite concerns, a majority of respondents (56 percent) would be more likely to shop with retailers that require employees to take the vaccine, while 48 percent of respondents think that those who refuse to take the vaccine are acting selfishly.
Beyond the pandemic, affordability (32 percent) and health (25 percent) will remain priorities for consumers when shopping. This is aligned with responses from June 2020, when 30 percent of respondents said they will focus on affordability and 26 percent on health, over sustainability, societal impact and experience.
EY Consulting Leader for Sri Lanka and the Maldives Arjuna Herath commenting on the study stated, “The COVID-19 pandemic has changed consumer behaviour and has not just driven ‘consumption at home’ through e-commerce. Consumers are now building their whole lifestyles around their homes as centres of gravity where they work, play and stay healthy.”
More than half of respondents (56 percent) plan to stay fit at home beyond the pandemic, while a third (33 percent) plan to upgrade appliances and furniture and 30 percent hope to work more from their home in the future.