After the pandemic and in the midst of multiple crises, consumption trends in Italy change under the sign of savings but also the search for new experiences and preferences. The painting comes from report 2023 'A year of trends', made by GS1 Italy, which collects a reasoned synthesis of the contents that appeared in twelve months on his website magazine trends online.
The weight of the long crisis
Among the key themes of 2022, several intercept consumer behavior, which comes from 'extraordinary times'. In fact, after the pandemic, the consequences of the war in Ukraine, the storm of energy prices, the rise in prices hit the economy.
The rush of inflation – in October 2022 the general inflation acquired is +8%, but the consumer price index is close to 12% – takes Italy back 40 years and the average loss of household purchasing power is estimated at 2.300 euros.
Italy by 2022 we discover an increasingly vulnerable country, with a struggling middle class and a sharp increase in outright poverty. On the other side of the post pandemic there is the growth of the luxury market (the wealth possessed by the few but representative Scrooge of Italy increases by 36%). In Italy, wealth is polarized by the rigidity of wages and the growth of absolute poverty.
The consumer gives up, reduces and postpones
A first big trend is the triple r's 'give up, reduce, postpone'.
'Faced with the pressure of inflation, the strategies implemented by the consumer envisage a spending review of non-essential goods, which however also becomes a new way of understanding consumption, more flexible, more variable, more distinctive, more fragmented and contradictory. With some non-negotiable points of reference - the search for convenience, the interchangeability of purchasing channels, the sharing of values - so much so that new qualitative and quantitative analysis tools are needed'.
'Out of the pandemic and catapulted into a context of war, the consumer faces the new crisis seeking security, reassurance and help in understanding what is happening, but ready to react quickly by reviewing their purchasing behavior and spending priorities'.
From the storm of these years then derives a more reflective, more planning and less impulsive consumer, so much so that the Italians who buy straightaway have decreased by 3 million in 6 months. Concerned about the cost of living, he decides to waste less, is attentive to the energy efficiency of what he buys (in tech especially) and loves promotions.
newbasic of consumption, says the report, are price, safety and simplicity.
Difficulties addictions grow. 'Betting, consumption of alcohol, psychopharmaceuticals and drugs are on the rise. There is an escalation of excesses which also expands the area of possible pathologies such as
- alcohol consumption, 11% from 3% in 2019,
- betting and games, from 4% to 11%),
- the use of psychiatric drugs, which almost quintuples (from 2% to 9%),
- drug use (2% to 8%)'.
Eating dysfunctions increase, especially in the most fragile people.
Consumption trends in Italy, many sacrifices
It will never be the same again the way of consuming, says 57% of Italians (with an increase of 7% in one year). Italians feel poorer and give up more, especially on energy and food, and look more for products in promotion.
With a personal 'spending review', postpone not only big expenses, such as the purchase of a house, but also everyday superfluities (bars and restaurants, clothing and entertainment). They postpone travel and vacations and postpone the purchase of technology.
For the first timeHowever, compared to other economic crises, food is not affected by a spending review. 24 and a half million Italians, despite the increase in prices, 'they are unwilling to compromise in their food choices and in the following months they expect to decrease the quantity but not the quality of their food'. This is above all the more basic food, while the MDD (Private Brand) continues its advance, with a market share that in 2022 is close to 30% (and the brands are expendable).
Savings and new styles of consumption
The emergency exit of Italians is savings. 68% are already adopting savings strategies, 85% of families are saving or say they will soon.
To cope to the increase of prices, various strategies are implemented:
- waste reduction (57% of respondents),
- elimination of some categories of products/services in purchasing choices (52%),
- renounce the purchase of superfluous products and services (52%),
- the quantity of products usually purchased decreases (21%),
- postponement of planned expenses (26%).
New research on consumption trends in Italy
The behaviors of consumers change quickly. To understand them, the foundational research 'New Consumer Code', carried out by GS1, starts Italy in collaboration with Ipsos and McKinsey & Company, with the aim of fully understanding the purchasing behavior of today's Italians and imagining possible directions for evolution by 2030.
They are identified six key thematic areas that explain the relationship between Italians and consumption:
- Emotionality of products and brands,
- Consumer experience innovation,
- Omnichannel and shopping experience,
- Care for the environment and the person,
- Convenience and thrift.
They outline new paradigms in consumer behavior, characterized by several elements:
- the orientation towards thrift, which is savings and an objective in itself and a way of staying in consumption,
- need experience in the purchasing process and 24/24 store availability thanks to multi-channels,
- push for sustainability,
- metropolitan styles that extend to the provinces.
They are dynamic accelerated by the pandemic, inflation and fear of the consequences of the war in Ukraine.
The role of private label
In this context the role of the private label also fits in, which has built a close relationship with consumers.
In the general uncertainty, 'The private label is a lifeline for many Italian families to help balance their spending bills'.
The choice of MDD is not motivated only by savings. It is associated with further values: valorisation of territoriality and local products; attention to the request for healthiness and sustainability, promotion of ethical behavior along the supply chain.
I driver most relevant to the purchase of a MDD product are
- the greater accessibility compared to the big brands (42%),
- offers and promotions (33%),
- products good to eat (29%),
- good range of products (28%),
- items that refer to the quality of the products.
Non-food, hunt for convenience
In the sector of not food, 'some trends that have already emerged are consolidating, such as the constant dialectic between digital and physical stores (with the latter recovering) in the variability of purchasing behavior and the attention to the search for convenience by the consumer who is increasingly careful not to succumb in the grip of inflation.
Clothing and footwear, consumer electronics, furniture, optics, perfumery and sports items are feeling the effects of the post-pandemic not only for the recovery of consumption but also for the purchasing channels.
The role of the digital channel
'During the pandemic Italians have increasingly learned to use new digital technologies also for shopping, a trend that has been confirmed and evolved in 2021.
Compared to preCovid-19, 30% of consumers declare that they have adopted new purchasing behaviors, in particular by making purchases via the web'.
About a third of consumers have leveraged ways of buying and delivered more flexible, such as remote orders (PC or telephone) with collection in store or orders in store with home delivery. Digital channels are present throughout the consumer purchasing journey, they help discover i brand, are also important as channels of marketing.
The gymkhana of savings
In not foodConcerned about uncertainty and price increases, consumers play defense: they reduce purchases or postpone them, as 50-70% of those interviewed state they do.
The search for savings it leads to comparing prices in the store, in the channels online, on the sites of E-commercebased on offers and promotions.
Methods also change the Shopping. 'Among those who have changed their habits, 65% go to the shops less often, 31,2% organize themselves to spend less time there (even taking advantage of the shopping services drive o pickup) and 26,4% choose less crowded days'.
THEE-commerce in Italy
In Italy theE-commerce becomes an adult. In 2022 it is estimated that the value of purchases online (products plus services) in the world continues to grow and reaches approximately 4.500 billion euros (+15% compared to 2021). In Italy in 2022 the forecast is that purchases online are worth 48,1 billion euros (+20% compared to 2021) with a slowdown in the growth of product purchases.
The numbers ofE-commerce in Italy well describe the trends of 'digital' consumption:
- the audience of e-shopper has reached 33,3 million people, ten million more than pre-Covid,
- the average monthly deliveries of purchased products are estimated at 31,5 million online,
- the share of buyers is 57,2%. online who has been shopping away for the past six months Whatsapp on mobile device,
- every 100 purchases online, half (50,1) comes from smartphone;
- the average value of purchases online of Italians in 2022 is estimated at 4.700 million euros.
Lo Shopping multichannel
Customers they follow a multi-channel purchase method: they will not go back from this change. A third of in-store shoppers also shop online online of the same signs.
And instead still in the initial stage live streaming commerce, 'a new way of offering products that has exploded in the East, especially in China, and arrived in Italy during the pandemic, which allows a shop, a manufacturer or a private individual to show a product in streaming and sell it as happens on some specialized television channels, with a direct relationship with the buyer who can ask questions during the live presentation'.
51,8% Italians online knows the phenomenon, 11% attended an event and bought, 6,9% attended an event without making purchases.
If you towards new ways of interacting. 72% of consumers intend to buy a brand that reflects one's own values (consumers therefore expect companies to lead change). With some paradox also in the search for sustainability. In fact, 65% of consumers want to buy sustainable products but only 26% actually do it.
A year of trends 2023. GS1 Italy. https://gs1it.org/content/public/6d/d9/6dd965dc-b889-4a5b-9885-8171be2787cc/un_anno_di_tendenze_2023.pdf
Journalist. Consumption, rights, nutrition, social, environment. Head of Consumers Help. You have collaborated with ResetDOC, Il Riformista, La Nuova Ecologia, IMGPress.