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Businesses That Capitalize On Consumer Behavior Change Are Better Positioned To Outperform Economic Growth, Finds Accenture

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 (73 percent) 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 purchasing process.
  • 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 (68 percent) and to be able to customize the product or service to be exactly what they want (63 percent).
  • 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 (51 percent) 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 (73 percent) 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.

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