The glass is half empty for young British consumers

That big dark cloud hanging over young people in Britain hasn’t shifted as research shows the current economic climate makes them less likely to be interested in buying products than those in emerging or growth markets.

Mindi Chahal

The lack of interest from young Brits is attached to their lack of confidence in the economic climate and their pessimism about their future prospects, according to the latest report from mobile research company On Device Research.

As many as 40 per cent of unemployed people in the UK are aged between 16 and 25 and this has sparked the Labour Party’s superhero-esque ‘Youth Jobs Taskforce’ which will involve entrepreneurs, trade unionists and academics swapping ideas on unemployment.

What is interesting in this research is the comparison across countries. On Device’s Young People’s Consumer Confidence survey looked at 5,600 16-34 year olds across six countries and reveals major differences in how confident Britons are about the economy, personal finances, employment prospects and purchase intentions compared to their growth market counterparts.

Across all these issues combined, young Chinese consumers have the overall highest confidence levels, indexing at 39, closely followed by Brazil (38), Nigeria (37) then India (32). In comparison, Britons index at just 10 and the US at 16.

On Device’s managing director Alistair Hill says: “The optimism that growth market consumers have about the future is in stark contrast to the doom and gloom amongst the UK’s ‘lost generation’. This has a massive impact on purchase intentions.”

Hill suggests that these countries with higher confidence levels are where marketers should be focused when it comes to building their brands.

The research backs this by showing the purchase intent across markets. The growth markets index 32 points higher in believing now is the right time to make big purchases such as electrical goods. Young Nigerian and Indian consumers have the strongest belief that now is the right time to be buying big items (indexing at 29) followed by Brazil (24) and China (22) – in contrast, young Britons index at minus six.

But Hill says that western marketers “need to understand the different infrastructure, cultural differences and population makeup” before making an attempt to expand their brand abroad.

Examples of this include McDonald’s home delivery in India, which taps into the country’s enthusiasm for that form of service and the fact that not much of the population drives, and western universities using billboards and posters in Sri Lanka to target the country’s increasingly educated consumers.

Hill says: “Growth market populations are also much younger, around a quarter of Western Europeans are under 25 compared to over 60 per cent in places such as Nigeria. This has a huge impact on the types of products in demand and smart marketers are in tune with this, whether it’s figuring out market entry strategies or how to allocate resources.”

The grass, according to this research, is greener on the other side, younger consumers are happier, confident about the future and in some cases the sun may even be shining. So what are you waiting for?

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