INFLATION, CONSUMPTION & PRESSURE
While young people can be generally budget conscious (having tighter budgets/lower salaries than older cohorts), they are also more ethically conscious than ever before when it comes to purchasing trends. We’ve seen the dynamics of value and values-led purchasing cause great debate in the marketing world lately. Many young people are witnessing this high inflation for the first time in their lives.
“It’s still costing a lot more to live in the UK than a few years ago. Petrol is mental. The hairdresser has gone through the roof - probably because their overheads have gone up and they have to pay staff more so they can also live.” Avene, 30, UK
“Petrol and diesel are insane here! Electric bills are astronomical for some people … luckily we picked a fixed rate or ours would have tripled… no fun!” Helen, 31, Sweden
Low mood around inflation and trade offs is one to be aware of too - some people might have felt great saving some money by cutting back on experiences in the pandemic and now, rather than spending it on exciting long-awaited adventures or luxury items, are forced to eat into it for necessities (to literally use it to eat). The shrinkflation phenomenon is also seeing companies reduce the size or quantity of products, rather than increase prices that pass on costs to others. This leads to disappointing consumers complaining or being a part of an engaged subreddit page with over 20k people venting.
All this is leading to tangible shifts in purchasing experiences and habits. Young people we spoke to talked about feeling shocked more and more when getting the bill in restaurants or looking back on receipts. It’s making them more selective about occasion planning - where they go and how often.
"Highest inflation rate in 30 years, meanwhile they are still claiming millennials cannot buy homes because they eat too much avo-toast!" Ellen, 25, Denmark
For Gen Z the conversation around inflation can also be linked back to perspectives on responsible consumption - sustainability and the reassessment of consumption trends in culture more deeply.
“I think over consumerism is a part of modern day culture due to the fact that there is a new trend every week and in order to keep up. Brands make cheap, low quality versions for a trend that ends a week later. With the internet and media constantly changing, brands are forced to keep up in order to stay relevant, which in turn, harms the environment. In order to promote a sustainable lifestyle, there needs to be a cultural shift, not just a marketing campaign. Purchases need to be made out of necessity, not a want or because its what cool right now.” Peter, 16.
However, as incomes get stretched others are likely to prioritize discount retailers (which they are comfortable with profiting from).