Businesses that Capitalize on Consumer Behavior Change are Better Positioned
to Outperform Economic Growth, Finds Accenture
DAVOS, Switzerland -- January 22, 2013
Global businesses that capitalize on major changes in consumer behavior can
generate significant growth over the next few years, according to a new report
from Accenture (NYSE: ACN).
The report, entitled “Energizing Global Growth: Understanding the Changing
Consumer,” concludes that companies able to capitalize on these changes with
speed and agility could capture a portion of the trillions of dollars in
growth that businesses globally are likely to see over the next few years as
the result of changing consumer behaviors. Accenture estimates that just 20
sectors most associated with these changes are set to enjoy growth of US$2.4
trillion by 2016.
“Many companies expect to outgrow their national economic environments over
the next few years,” said Mark Spelman, a managing director at Accenture. “To
be able to achieve their expectations, companies should look not just to new
markets, but also to how consumer behavior is changing and then put in place
the capabilities necessary to capitalize on those changes.”
The report is based on four individual studies: an online survey of 10,000
consumers in 10 countries across five continents; a survey of 600 business
executives in those same 10 countries; an assessment of the world’s top 3,000
listed companies by market capitalization and their revenue growth compared
with the industry averages over various timeframes; and a macroeconomic
analysis conducted in conjunction with Oxford Economics to assess the impact
of changing consumer behavior.
Among the key changes in consumer behavior the report identified:
*Consumers are increasingly “connected” – often online, interacting with
companies and other consumers to research and purchase products, share
advice, and praise or criticize a business. Nearly three-quarters
(73percent) of the consumers surveyed said they use the Internet to
research or purchase products or services more than they did three years
ago.Consumers are also increasingly using social media as a tool in the
*Consumers are increasingly “demanding” – seeking products and services
customized to meet their specific needs. Approximately two-thirds of
consumers surveyed said that it is important to be able to buy what they
want when they want it (68percent) and to be able to customize the
product or service to be exactly what they want (63percent).
*Consumers are increasingly “conscientious” – seeking sustainable goods and
services, they are focused on where and how their products are made and on
doing business with companies that make a positive social and/or
environmental impact.Half (51percent) of consumers surveyed said they
consider the environmental impact of the product or manufacturer before
purchasing a product more often than they did three years ago.
Accenture also found that while nearly three-quarters (73percent) of business
executives said that consumer behavior has changed markedly in the last three
years, a similar proportion (74 percent) said they do not fully understand the
consumer changes that are under way – and even more (80 percent) said they
believe that their companies are not taking full advantage of the
opportunities these changes present.
Recommendations for Capitalizing on Consumer Behavior Changes
The report makes recommendations on how companies can achieve growth and
outperform competitors by effectively addressing changing consumer behavior,
taking their lead from “growth leaders” in their industries:
*Invest in advanced analytics tools – and the relevant workforce skills –
to assess these changes and interpret consumer data.Armed with such data,
companies will be better equipped to enhance the consumer experience with
more-tailored customer service. For instance, the analytics program of a
leading media-rental company enables it to recommend movie and TV titles
based on an individual consumer’s preferences and rental history.
*Have the strategic mindset to recognize and adapt to disruptive consumer
change and competitive threats.A global car-rental company replicated the
business model of new players offering hourly rentals.By meeting
disruption head-on, the company has been able to use its scale and scope
to reduce the threat of new competition while improving customer service.
*Put in place “flexible” organizational models that enable the company to
be more agile and act quickly. This might entail acquisitions, divestments
or partnerships to complement existing capabilities.For instance, a
US-based grocer understood at an early stage consumers’ growing emphasis
on healthy living and carried out numerous mergers and acquisitions to
become a global leader in natural foods.
“To achieve the necessary growth that leads to success in a slow-growth world
while operating in the midst of widespread changes in consumer behavior,
companies must strive to be become more agile – to connect the scale
advantages of the large with the tailored approach of the small, the
traditional benefits of the old and the cutting edge of the new,” Spelman
said.“By achieving the right balance between sets of extremes, businesses can
shape consumer change to their advantage – and help trigger higher levels of
consumer expenditure, which, in turn, can energize global growth.”
Emerging Markets at the Center of Change
The report also shows that consumers in emerging markets have exhibited
greater behavior change in the past few years than have consumers in developed
markets. For example, consumers in emerging markets were at least twice as
likely as those in mature markets to have increased their interaction with
companies online over the past three years (62 percent vs. 25percent) and to
be increasingly considering the environmental and social impact of what they
buy (64percent vs. 32 percent).
At the same time, companies in emerging markets consider themselves
better-prepared than those in developed markets to seize the opportunities of
changing consumer behaviors.Executives in the emerging-market companies
surveyed were more likely than those in developed-markets companies to say
they completely understand how consumer behavior is changing (32 percent vs.
17 percent) – and also more likely to develop a response to these changes by
investing more in consumer-facing activities such as advertising, marketing
and retail channels (82percent vs. 50 percent).
“Many of the opportunities generated by changing consumer behavior will
replace, rather than add to, existing revenues,” Spelman said. “Proactive and
agile companies look set to seize market share in slow-growth markets.
Incumbent companies face a real risk of being displaced by these new
competitive threats unless they focus on enhancing their understanding of
More information on the report – “Energizing Global Growth: Understanding the
Changing Consumer” – can be found atwww.accenture.com/globalgrowth.
Accenture is a global management consulting, technology services and
outsourcing company, with approximately 259,000 people serving clients in more
than 120 countries.Combining unparalleled experience, comprehensive
capabilities across all industries and business functions, and extensive
research on the world’s most successful companies, Accenture collaborates with
clients to help them become high-performance businesses and governments. The
company generated net revenues of US$27.9billion for the fiscal year ended
Aug. 31, 2012.Its home page is www.accenture.com.
Matthew McGuinness, + 44 77400 38921
Chris Allieri, + 646 245 8937
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