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The Irish consumer: Changed for good

Irish Consumer Insights Pulse Survey 2021

The Irish consumer has become more digital with shoppers surging to mobile platforms. Stores remain important to the Irish shopper. Value is front of mind when choosing where to shop and protecting their personal data is key to building trust.

  • 77%

    actively seek the best deal online and 75% in-store.

  • 32%

    32% shop weekly via mobile phone, rising to 44% for 18-24 year olds.

  • 60%

    increased their focus on savings and prices in the last six months.

  • 47%

    listed personal data protection as a key feature of brand trust.

During the pandemic, consumers had to pivot and adopt new habits. Business leaders wondered at the outset of the pandemic whether these changes, which accelerated trends already in motion, would be fleeting or permanent. Now, our Irish Consumer Insights Pulse Survey 2021 reveals that the changes are sticking – signifying a historic and dramatic shift in consumer behaviour.

The Irish Consumer Insights Survey is part of a global initiative, gathering data from 9,370 people in 26 countries, including over 500 Irish consumers.

Explore our insights on the evolving Irish consumer.

The evolving Irish consumer

The events of the last two years have changed how we live, work and shop. The evolving Irish consumer is responding to the current macroeconomic challenges by increasing; focus on savings, price sensitivity, purchasing online via multiple channels, customer service expectations and Environmental, Social and Governance expectations.

Consumer sentiment is fragile. Around half or more Irish consumers expect no change in their spend over the coming six months compared to the previous six months. For example, 48% expect no change in their spend on fashion, 55% will hold their spend on groceries and 58% will hold their spend on health and beauty. Understanding these new and emerging consumer nuances and the, at times, fragile nature of this consumer optimism is key to winning in these ever changing times.

A close-up photo of a person's hand holding a smartphone over a terminal.
Considering your general shopping behaviour in physical stores or online, please indicate how often you are shopping in the following ways.
Enable JavaScript to see our interactive graphics or scroll down to see the raw data in the table
    Base: All respondents (9,370). Source: December 2021 PwC Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey.
      Global Australia Brazil Canada China Egypt France Germany Hong Kong, SAR India Indonesia Ireland Japan South Korea Malaysia Mexico Philippines Qatar Russia Saudi Arabia Singapore South Africa Spain Thailand United Arab Emirates United States Vietnam
    Q: Shoppers who said they are always or very frequently buying in the following ways online
    Shoppers who said they are always or very frequently buying in the following ways online
    I am actively seeking the best deal 69% 72% 79% 69% 58% 69% 65% 60% 62% 80% 80% 77% 43% 61% 77% 68% 82% 83% 70% 75% 70% 82% 66% 67% 68% 71% 85%
    I am buying from retailers that provide an efficient delivery or collection service 56% 60% 69% 48% 60% 60% 50% 34% 51% 73% 64% 56% 23% 53% 68% 65% 72% 61% 50% 64% 58% 66% 48% 61% 75% 52% 72%
    I am buying eco-friendly/sustainable products 42% 39% 45% 33% 60% 51% 41% 32% 31% 69% 48% 31% 20% 33% 50% 49% 60% 52% 40% 47% 31% 48% 31% 53% 52% 33% 72%
      Global Australia Brazil Canada China Egypt France Germany Hong Kong, SAR India Indonesia Ireland Japan South Korea Malaysia Mexico Philippines Qatar Russia Saudi Arabia Singapore South Africa Spain Thailand United Arab Emirates United States Vietnam
    Shoppers who said they are always or very frequently buying in the following ways in-store:
    Shoppers who said they are always or very frequently buying in the following ways in-store
    I am actively seeking the best deal 68% 71% 79% 66% 55% 74% 63% 57% 59% 77% 70% 75% 45% 55% 73% 69% 72% 83% 69% 72% 70% 83% 66% 67% 71% 69% 75%
    I am buying from a variety of retailers to meet my needs 58% 59% 70% 52% 53% 65% 52% 55% 54% 67% 62% 60% 35% 36% 70% 65% 63% 67% 53% 66% 49% 77% 60% 58% 58% 55% 71%
    I am buying eco-friendly/sustainable products 42% 41% 46% 32% 58% 47% 41% 33% 30% 70% 49% 34% 19% 30% 47% 47% 58% 55% 40% 53% 33% 49% 29% 55% 58% 34% 67%

    The channel of choice

    47% of Irish consumers say they have become more digital in the last six months. Mobile phone shopping is by far the most popular online shopping mode. Fashion and Health and Beauty are the top online categories while expectedly Grocery leads the in-store category.

    For leaders looking to drive customers either into stores or online, analysis of our survey findings uncovered specific factors that are strongly linked with a tendency to shop via specific channels. Understanding the interplay between these different channels is vital to growing revenue. For example, making purchases possible via social media could help drive greater propensity to shop online, as could offering efficient delivery or collection services.

    A photo of a man holding a debit card and smartphone while sitting on a sofa.
    In the last 12 months, how often have you bought products (e.g. clothes, books, electronics) using the following shopping channels?
    Enable JavaScript to see our interactive graphics or scroll down to see the raw data in the table
    Note: Not including grocery. 2020 not included, as different sampling was used. Year of data relates to year of publication (e.g. March 2021 data collected in late 2020, published in March 2021. Source: December 2021 PwC Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey
      Global Australia Brazil Canada China Egypt France Germany Hong Kong, SAR India Indonesia Ireland Japan South Korea Malaysia Mexico Philippines Qatar Russia Saudi Arabia Singapore South Africa Spain Thailand United Arab Emirates United States Vietnam
    In the last 12 months, how often have you bought products (e.g. clothes, books, electronics) using the following shopping channels?
    Respondents who answered daily/weekly
    In-store 47%, 45%, 41%, 49% 52%, 50%, 55%, 55% 33%, 26%, 24%, 30% 53%, 45%, 41%, 50% 50%, 53%, 49%, 52% 41%, 57%. 40%, 48% 53%, 47%, 40%, 46% 48%, 41%, 35%, 59% 60%, 50%, 61%, 63% 53%, n/a, n/a, n/a 46%, 45%, 34%, 52% 46%, n/a, n/a, 54% 43%, 43%, 40%, 41% 34%, 35%, 35%, n/a 50%, 51%, 39%, 55% 50%, 39%, 36%, n/a 46%, 39%, 41%, 55% 46%, n/a, n/a, n/a 50%, 43%, 41%, 66% 56%, 59%, 56%, 53% 48%, 54%, 46%, 51% 32%, 37%, 37%, 46% 47%, 50%, 35%, 48% 50%, 50%, 37%, 55% 53%, 51%, 42%, 61% 55%, 55%, 48%, 56% 67%, 68%, 63%, 76%
    Mobile or smartphone 41%, 39%, 33%, 24% 43%, 40%, 34%, 25% 42%, 31%, 30%, 26% 27%, 28%, 25%, 15% 61%, 61%, 57%, 55% 37%, 49%, 38%, 29% 31%, 35%, 26%, 18% 35%, 31%, 23%, 23% 40%, 29%, 40%, 30% 53%, n/a, n/a, n/a 54%, 54%, 43%, 37% 33%, n/a, n/a, 20% 19%, 21%, 13%, 16% 59%, 56%, 53%, n/a 51%, 42%, 40%, 27% 39%, 37%, 28%, n/a 52%, 41%, 35%, 22% 39%, n/a, n/a, n/a 30%, 22%, 24%, 24% 49%, 45%, 41%, 34% 46%, 54%, 43%, 27% 30%, 33%, 24%, 17% 33%, 34%, 31%, 20% 49%, 52%, 37%, 36% 48%, 48%, 42%, 33% 36%, 40%, 39%, 24% 69%, 59%, 54%, 55%

    Comma separated values represent:

    • Dec 2021
    • June 2021
    • March 2021
    • 2019

    Data privacy is key to consumer trust

    Personal data protection is the key factor when it comes to building brand trust with 47% of respondents stating this. Other factors such as exceptional customer and sustainability are also key attributes for driving trust amongst Irish consumers but data protection is a non-negotiable.

    Environmental, Social and Governance factors are of growing importance to Irish consumers when it comes to building trust but other factors such as sharing discounts and offering a seamless experience, which affect consumers in a more obvious, direct way are highly valued.

    Businesses can build a system of privileged insights, but only if the value they offer resonates with consumers and these consumers trust them to make good use of their data.

    A close-up photo of a person's hands: one holding a debit card and the other typing on a laptop.
    Thinking about a brand that you regularly buy products or services from, to what extent do the following impact how much you trust the brand:
    Enable JavaScript to see our interactive graphics or scroll down to see the raw data in the table
    Base: All respondents (9,370). Source: December 2021 PwC Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey.
      Global Australia Brazil Canada China Egypt France Germany Hong Kong, SAR India Indonesia Ireland Japan South Korea Malaysia Mexico Philippines Qatar Russia Saudi Arabia Singapore South Africa Spain Thailand United Arab Emirates United States Vietnam
    Thinking about a brand that you regularly buy producdts/services from, to what extent do the following impact how much you trust the brand?
    Respondents answering "To a great extent"
    Protects my personal data 47% 38% 58% 45% 50% 62% 33% 32% 28% 54% 61% 47% 28% 27% 53% 62% 71% 67% 42% 54% 38% 67% 51% 41% 49% 46% 64%
    Always meets my expectations 39% 35% 47% 37% 44% 43% 29% 30% 33% 48% 46% 37% 18% 26% 35% 54% 56% 57% 41% 46% 29% 55% 45% 33% 42% 36% 48%
    Provides exceptional customer service 38% 32% 47% 36% 41% 46% 25% 27% 27% 43% 52% 38% 15% 24% 34% 54% 65% 54% 35% 35% 28% 60% 45% 38% 36% 37% 53%
    Shares relevant discounts/recommendations to me 36% 31% 46% 30% 31% 42% 25% 25% 32% 46% 46% 34% 16% 27% 39% 45% 54% 53% 43% 38% 29% 51% 39% 33% 35% 32% 42%
    Makes it easy for me to make repeat purchases 35% 28% 44% 27% 38% 43% 24% 31% 26% 49% 41% 31% 20% 24% 38% 42% 52% 49% 35% 37% 30% 55% 31% 30% 42% 32% 41%
      Global Australia Brazil Canada China Egypt France Germany Hong Kong, SAR India Indonesia Ireland Japan South Korea Malaysia Mexico Philippines Qatar Russia Saudi Arabia Singapore South Africa Spain Thailand United Arab Emirates United States Vietnam
    Thinking about a brand that you regularly buy producdts/services from, to what extent do the following impact how much you trust the brand?
    Consumers who say they have been more protective about their data in the last six months
    I am protective of my personal data 59% 51% 73% 49% 65% 67% 42% 44% 56% 75% 79% 51% 27% 52% 74% 75% 83% 81% 54% 67% 68% 74% 56% 65% 70% 56% 71%

    Consumers care more about sustainability than ever before

    50% of Irish respondents stated they were more eco-friendly focused compared to six months ago. Consumers care about Environmental, Social and Governance factors, but it is only one driver of trust, albeit an important one.

    Consumers want to do the right thing for society and for the environment, but products can't be one-dimensional when it comes to consumer expectations as they have to satisfy more complex consumer needs.

    Irish hybrid workers show the most interest in sustainable shopping with better lifestyle choices, staff well-being and supporting local communities used to form purchasing decisions.

    A photo of a reusable tote bag with a print of a green-coloured recycling logo.
    Before considering or making a purchase with a retailer, how often do you consciously consider the following factors?
    Enable JavaScript to see our interactive graphics or scroll down to see the raw data in the table
    Base: All respondents (9,370). Source: December 2021 PwC Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey.
      Global Australia Brazil Canada China Egypt France Germany Hong Kong, SAR India Indonesia Ireland Japan South Korea Malaysia Mexico Philippines Qatar Russia Saudi Arabia Singapore South Africa Spain Thailand United Arab Emirates United States Vietnam
    Before considering/making a purchase with a retailer, how often do you consciously consider the following factors? The retailer you are purchasing from.
    Respondents answering "very often or often"
    Has strong company values and is committed to doing the right thing 53% 48% 68% 42% 61% 67% 40% 45% 46% 75% 67% 39% 29% 37% 59% 69% 78% 69% 40% 69% 44% 64% 45% 67% 69% 45% 77%
    Is supporting local communities 48% 47% 56% 40% 58% 58% 38% 41% 44% 68% 68% 40% 26% 29% 59% 57% 72% 63% 34% 62% 39% 57% 46% 68% 56% 40% 67%
    Is taking responsibility for staff well being 50% 45% 61% 40% 58% 61% 42% 46% 40% 68% 63% 44% 23% 33% 61% 67% 75% 68% 38% 69% 41% 56% 46% 68% 59% 45% 70%
    Is helping you make healthier/better lifestyle choices 55% 48% 61% 44% 66% 71% 42% 41% 46% 76% 78% 45% 35% 47% 65% 64% 78% 71% 48% 67% 47% 63% 47% 77% 66% 44% 77%
    Produces items with a traceable and transparent origin 51% 47% 60% 38% 62% 68% 48% 45% 52% 65% 64% 41% 27% 47% 55% 51% 67% 66% 46% 63% 39% 54% 44% 68% 62% 36% 81%
    Produces biodegradable/eco-friendly products 47% 46% 51% 38% 58% 55% 42% 36% 44% 72% 62% 38% 26% 37% 50% 51% 65% 57% 36% 57% 41% 51% 36% 66% 61% 36% 76%

    Key actions businesses can take now

    Data protection

    Customer awareness and expectations in relation to data protection continue to grow. We recommend you take the following steps to gain and maintain customer trust:

    1. Basic data protection hygiene: It may sound obvious, but some organisations still fail to meet the public facing hygiene factors in relation to data protection. Ensure your website cookie banner and preference centre are compliant. Ensure you have an up-to-date privacy statement or notice and a clear mechanism to deal with data subject requests.
    2. Data trust: Poor data management practices can result in incidents that cause reputational damage and erode trust. Review how you manage data across the data life cycle against good practice standards and ensure you only collect what you need, secure it while in your possession and ultimately dispose of it when it has served its purpose.
    3. Third parties: Don't forget that much of your personal data may reside with third parties. Put in place robust governance across the third-party life cycle from procurement through to exit management to ensure your vendors do not put your reputation at risk.

    Environmental, Social and Governance strategy

    With growing consumer and investor pressures along with the need to comply with regulatory requirements all creating new business challenges, this is an area which needs to be fully understood and planned for. ESG presents opportunities to create competitive advantage albeit the risks need to be mitigated.

    Three key areas of focus are:

    1. Strategy: Are the risks understood and quantified, does your business have a clear ESG strategy, is their senior leadership ownership and accountability, is the plan understood and communicated across the business?
    2. Reporting: Are the reporting requirements understood and is the required data available? Is there ownership for the necessary measurement and reporting?
    3. Operational: Are the necessary operational plans in place to support the ESG strategy? Are the necessary measurements in place to track progress?

    Digital strategy

    Building an integrated digital and operational strategy is essential to providing optimal customer service as well as the most efficient business processes.

    Key areas of focus include:

    • Customer insights: Is your planning informed by the latest customer insights and also taking account of macro trends that will drive change? Have you assessed current platforms against emerging trends?
    • Process automation: Have all opportunities to apply process automation been assessed? This creates efficiency opportunities but also helps mitigate against labour shortages
    • Road map: Is there alignment on the short, medium or long-term plan?

    We are here to help you

    In this constantly changing world where planning for the unexpected is now a matter of course, businesses need to remain one step ahead of the evolving consumer. This is not easy as there are so many variables at play from cybersecurity, data insights through to building the most appropriate operational and digital strategy.

    Challenging times lie ahead but this also comes with opportunities. It is only by understanding current markets and future trends that winning strategies can be built.We are ready to help you as you face the future. Contact us today.

    Contact us

    John Dillon

    Partner, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

    Tel: +353 86 810 6415

    Owen McFeely

    Director, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

    Tel: 353 86 417 4381

    Mark McKeever

    Director, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

    Ruth McNamee

    Senior Manager, PwC Ireland (Republic of)

    Tel: +353 87 601 0605

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