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The New Consumerism: Consumers Embrace the Circular Economy

May 30th, 2016

The circular economy is one of the eight trends which we see as combining to create The New Consumerism. The New Consumerism sees today’s consumers reassessing their priorities and increasingly asking themselves what they truly value:  Why own something that I only use sporadically? Why accumulate more belongings when I could be out experiencing life? Why pay for space I don’t use? Why work 9-5?

The Circular Economy is one where everything is reused and nothing is wasted. It is the antithesis of the current “build, buy, bury” model of a one-way stream of raw material to factory, to user, then landfill.

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Resource-efficiency a key goal

A driving force of the circular economy is the pressure on natural resources, which creates more importance for resource efficiency. The cost-savings involved are an attractive pull-factor, as is the benefit to company reputation. Concerns around the security of supply of raw materials; the increased demand globally for natural resources; and calls for sustainability from both governments and consumers alike are also factors driving the calls for a circular economy.

New Consumerism_circular economy article

Consumers increasingly aware of the cost and environmental benefits

In a post-recessionary environment, with global economic growth still fragile, consumers remain cautious over their spending, with conspicuous consumption being replaced by conscious consumption. Making the most of their own resources is part of this drive, with consumers increasingly open to re-use, trade-in and hiring durable goods. The continued success of auction and free-exchange websites is further evidence of this.

New Consumerism_circular economy recycling

Source:  Euromonitor International Middle Class Home Survey, 2013

The Reach of the New Consumerism

The circular economy is one facet of the New Consumerism, which recognises that consumers are reassessing their values and priorities and are increasingly focused on getting the most out of life. This isn’t a selfish pursuit of happiness, but rather a behavioural change encompassing the desire for authenticity, the search for wellbeing, the desire to live a freer, more simple life. We are seeing a range of interwoven trends, sharing common drivers, which combine to impact on a whole range of industries.

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Sarah Boumphrey

Sarah has 15 years’ experience in economic and consumer research. In her role as Global Lead of Economies and Consumers, she focuses on translating economic and consumer trends information into useful insight. Sarah leads the development of our macroeconomic and consumer trend content, with a special interest in emerging markets.

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