The Fickle Consumer: Who are They?

Who are fickle consumers?

Fickle Consumers are typically hard to connect with, as they listen more to each other than to company messages when making buying choices. In Euromonitor’s 2017 Global Consumer Trends Survey, 62% of respondents considered family/friends as either an extremely or very important influence on their buying decisions, compared to 34% of respondents who considered brands/retailer advertising on social media as influential. They are very demanding, as their purchasing decisions are driven by the pursuit of value. Importantly, value is not all about a ‘nice’ price, but is related to quality and intangibles like the post purchase experience, convenience, novelty and more. Fickle Consumers present a challenge for brands that want to connect with them and engender their loyalty. Brands and marketers need to engage with consumers as an active and trusted partner and find innovative ways to add value to consumers’ life.

Graph of the responses of the survey question "Which of the following types of communication do you consider extremely or very influential in terms of selecting a product, brand, or service?" The responding answers were friends/family recommendation, Independent consumer reviews, TV commercials, and Brand/retailer advertising on social media.

Knowledge is power

While consumers have always had the ability to vote with their wallets, the easy access and widespread dissemination of information has given them the added power to influence each other’s purchasing decisions. In their pursuit of value, middle class consumers will often not buy a product or service before checking out fellow consumers’ opinions or consumption experiences. Additionally, they use social media and price comparison websites to inform their buying decisions; embrace mcommerce enthusiastically; and are not afraid to make cross-border purchases from overseas online retailers. Euromonitor International’s Global Consumer Trends Survey of 2017 found that the proportion of middle class respondents (earning US$40,000– US$60,000 per annum) who considered independent consumer reviews as “not influential at all” in their decision to purchase a product, brand or service was consistently lower than that of total respondents in all nine developed markets surveyed.

Woman at the grocery store consulting her smartphone.

Source: Euromonitor International

Why Fickle Consumers tend to be middle class

In developed markets, although internet connectivity has become the norm, middle- and high-income households are still more likely than their poorer counterparts to be in possession of smartphones, wearables and mobile broadband subscriptions. Mobile broadband connectivity is vital for consumers to gain easy access to information and to have the ability to share their opinions and experiences anytime anywhere.  While mobile connectivity has handed more information, more choices and ultimately more power to the consumer, it has also increased the complexity of decision making. This is particularly true for post-recessionary middle class consumers in developed markets, who are keen to try out new products and services, but who are also more value conscious than affluent consumers. To the informed and connected middle-class consumer, value is more than just a ‘nice’ price as it also encompasses quality, experience, convenience, authenticity, novelty, corporate social responsibility and more.