Balancing spending with sustainability: How is consumer behaviour changing amid cost-of-living pressures and global warming?

Consulting company Ernst & Young (EY) has published its 13th Future Consumer Index (FCI)​ results, identifying changing consumer behaviours and spending patterns amid the cost of living and climate change crises. The ongoing cost of living crisis is placing stress on already-stretched consumer budgets and climate change is driving consumers towards more sustainable purchases.

Cost and climate spur change

“The latest EY FCI reveals rising food prices are driving consumers to prioritise essentials and optimise grocery budgets,”​ Marie Bos, Senior Analyst of Global Consumer Industries at EY, told FoodNavigator.

EY’s FCI reveals the latest food industry-related insights, detailing how the cost of living crisis is causing consumers to reevaluate how they shop for food and beverages and what purchases they make. Four-fifths (80%) of global consumers remain worried about their finances, and almost half (46%) expressed extreme concern about climate change, the Index, which surveyed 22,000 consumers in 28 countries, found.

More than half (54%) of global consumers plan to lower their future purchases. The leading drivers to reduce their consumption patterns are the need to save money (73%). The FCI results reveal the close connection between economics and the environment, with 67% of respondents stating their deep concern for the planet’s fragility as the core reason behind their intention to change their consumption patterns.

Over half (56%) of respondents believe consumers should push companies to have better social and environmental outcomes. In comparison, 73% of respondents state that companies need to lead the ecological change, and 77% say governments need to be responsible for leading this climate overhaul.