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Clashing consumer trends battle for energy efficiency – pt. 1

What are really today’s consumer trends when purchasing Technical Consumer Goods (TCG) such as smartphones, computers, TVs or washing machines?

Consumer attitudes observed by GfK Consumer Life® as well as the purchase behavior at retail POS provide us with solid evidence that the most impactful drivers for people to make a purchase are:

  1. Performance: Enabler for rich experiences through high end product features
  2. Simplification: Automating recurrent tasks or making tasks more seamless
  3. Premium: Aspirational products making a statement about own identity
  4. Borderless Shopping: Consumers: I want it now!

More consumer trends with big impact

Sustainability is another decisive consumer trend, strongly present in the world of domestic appliances such as washing machines and refrigerators. Consumers now seek a significant potential to save energy which means energy labels are an important factor in the decision making process.

The energy label in Europe has been a success story in that sense for the past decade – allowing for differentiation of manufacturers as well as contributing to consumers’ peace of mind by saving energy.

In 2012, only 24% of appliances in European countries* had an A++/+++ label while the share of sold appliances with “Best-in-Class” labels increased to 62% in 2018. Appliances sold with A+++ rating are washing machines whereas this label is still rare in refrigerators or freezers.

But this is only half the truth!

On one hand, appliances with comparable size became more efficient in recent years (e.g. Combi fridges with No Frost technology consumed 9% less energy on average in 2018 vs. 2014) whereas on the other hand, more and more consumers turn to larger appliances.

Performance is another rising consumer trend when it comes to technical goods. Consumers are also looking rich and convenient experiences, i.e. high capacity fridges helping to stock more food and hence, fewer shopping trips are required. However, more and more consumers feel the responsibility for our environment—global warming initiatives like “Fridays for Future” convey this evolving attitude. GfK’s Consumer Life® study confirms the advance of sustainability: In 2018, 45% of global respondents said that they feel guilty when they do something that is not environmentally friendly. This mindset has grown steadily from 37% in 2015.

Obviously, two consumer needs clash here: Sustainability (energy saving) and Performance (energy hungry). Check back for part 2 of this blog to find out how these trends affect energy consumption in home appliances.

*Data was acquired from 10 major countries in Europe: AT, BE, DE, ES, FR, GB, IT, NL, PT & SE.

This blog is a preview of my presentation at
ECEEE’s Summer Study

 

[Infographic]

GfK Sustainability Consumer Trends in European Household Appliances

Download the full infographic here

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