Mired in a period of low growth, developed economies are becoming increasingly tough places to do business. Fortunately, while the overall size of markets may be stagnant or even shrinking, individual consumers are not standing still. Their behaviour change is offering a significant growth opportunity for businesses at the forefront of consumer understanding.
These are trying times for business leaders seeking growth in developed markets. Fewer than half the OECD economies are expected to grow by more than 1 percent in 2013. Expectations are equally dismal for consumer expenditure growth in Europe’s leading countries; especially those in Southern Europe (see Figure 1). Absolute growth in private consumption between 2010 and 2020 is now forecast to be higher in Sudan than in Italy, and higher in Chad than in Spain.
This stagnation at the level of national economies can be seen at the individual consumer level as well. As part of our study into global consumer behaviour, we surveyed 10,000 consumers from four developed and six emerging economies. Only 21 percent of developed-market consumers felt they had more money to spend on discretionary purchases than three years ago. In emerging markets, this figure was 49 percent (see Figure 2).