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Price and convenience matters the most to consumers - PwC

There is a renewed sense of optimism with consumers returning to in-store shopping in greater numbers while out-of-home entertainment and travel is on the rise.

There is a renewed sense of optimism with consumers returning to in-store shopping in greater numbers while out-of-home entertainment and travel is on the rise.

Published Dec 9, 2021

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PRICE and convenience mattered most to consumers when shopping, according to the latest PwC 2021 Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey.

Consumers care about ESG (environmental, social, governance) factors, but when stacked against the basics of price and convenience, ESG fades in importance. In general, people want to do the right thing for society and for the environment, but products can’t be only either affordable and easy to get or sustainable; they have to be both.

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The survey found that even when it comes to other factors in the shopping experience, such as trust in a brand, price was a key consideration as 82 percent of South African shoppers who buy online stated that they actively sought the best deals.

Some 66 percent said they buy from retailers that provide an efficient delivery or collection service. However, price and convenience still matter most to consumers. More than half of those surveyed said an efficient delivery or collection service was always or very often important in the purchasing decision.

The survey also found that consumers were returning to in-store shopping in greater numbers while out-of-home entertainment and travel was on the rise as three in five (61 percent) expressed optimism about the future.

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Consumers were said to be physically venturing more out for work and play

Not only were global consumers more likely to travel and go to restaurants than they were six months ago, they were also significantly more likely to go to a gym or a large arts, culture or sporting event. But the vast majority of survey respondents were still getting their entertainment at home and doing their workouts, dining and socialising with friends and family at home, too.

Some 50 percent of South African respondents (compared to 41 percent in March this year stated they were likely to use public transport to travel.

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PwC’s CGIS most recent survey (September 2021) of 9 370 consumers across 26 territories, of which 503 were in South Africa, found that when asked to consider their country’s Covid-19 situation, those who were vaccinated were much more positive about the future versus those who were yet to get the jab, with 66 percent of those at least partially vaccinated optimistic compared to 43 percent of unvaccinated respondents.

PwC Africa Retail Leader Anton Hugo said it was heartening to note that optimism among consumers was on the rise.

“As optimism continues to rise, so consumers are planning to spend more, and they are seeing improvements in their lifestyle as employers allow new ways of working. Some things, however, never change: when it comes to shopping, price and convenience still matter most, even as other factors, such as sustainability, are increasingly on consumers’ minds,” Hugo said.

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The survey also found that work arrangements also influenced optimism levels, with those working from home or in a hybrid way being 10 percentage points (68 percent) more optimistic than their away-from-home counterparts (58 percent). In South Africa, 40 percent of survey respondents said they were required to work to be physically located at their place of work, while 27 percent said they were required to work in a hybrid manner. Under half of South African respondents (46 percent) said they had a good work life balance, compared to 44 percent of global respondents.

As optimism rose, consumers planned on spending more on out-of-home activities: from in-store shopping to entertainment and travelling with in-store shopping recovering recovering with about half (48 percent) of global respondents (South Africa:37 percent) saying they visited a physical store at least once a week, and nearly three quarters globally (72 percent) being ‘likely’ to visit a shopping mall in the next six months.

Consumers also planned to spend more on groceries (Global: 41 percent; South Africa: 51 percent), fashion (Global: 33 percent; South Africa: 40 percent), and health and beauty (Global: 30 percent; South Africa:35 percent) further boosting economic recovery.

The survey also found that smartphone shopping was at a historic high as nearly half (41 percent) of respondents said they were making purchases by smartphone at least once a week compared to 30 percent last year and 17 percent in 2019. In South Africa, 41 percent of consumers shopped using their mobile phones or smartphones, compared to 24 percent in 2019. Millennials were embracing mobile shopping enthusiastically, with 50 percent shopping via their smartphone at least weekly.

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