New Research uncovers how UK consumers are treating themselves during tough times

May 31, 2023

Consumers are clearly feeling the pinch - with 97% noticing a significant uptick in grocery prices in just the past three months. While issues like climate change remain concerns, the rising cost of groceries and inflation are top of mind for many. 


From discounts to DIY, shoppers have adapted quickly. They are managing in some quirky ways, such as reducing the amount they put the oven on, signing up to almost every supermarket loyalty  scheme, using smart banking app spending limits to control their grocery spend, and even making their own oat milk.  


Thefindings result from a brand-new report called “Shop, Snack, Sip - HowConsumers are Treating Themselves in 2023” from foodmrx. 


Finding the Sweet Spot - new research shows consumers find themselves in a challenging position as they try to navigate a delicate balance.  On the one hand, they crave venturing out more often, visiting bars and restaurants with their friends to make up for lost time during the pandemic.  On the other hand, they face the pressing issue of trying to save money.


TheImportance of Indulgence - the vast majority (84%) agree that treating yourself is important, even when times are tough. A quarter of people say that regardless of their financial situation, sometimes they just deserve a treat and buy it anyway. 


Saving without Sacrificing - the majority of people (55%) say, ‘I am still buying treats for myself,they are just smaller’. 


Jonathan Watson, Founder & CEO of foodmrx adds “Consumers are seeking alternatives that offer comparable experiences at a lower price point, including buying takeaway style food from supermarkets instead of using more expensive food delivery apps. This trend underscores the fact that people opt for smaller, more affordable indulgences when their budgets are tight, a phenomenon that economists call the lipstick effect”. 


“With consumers having to balance between treats and budget, it means brands on the extremes are doing well.” 


Other findings from the new report include :

  • Consumers are talking about the ‘Dupes’ trend from TikTok. Dupes are less-expensive alternatives to brand-name products, and the searches for dupes have doubled on Google since 2021 in the UK.
  • When it comes to sustainability, attitudes are largely already set in place - and the cost of living crisis has not changed this much. Since the cost of living crisis began, 55% of people have not changed the amount of sustainable products they purchase either way.
  • Gen Z consumers (aged 18-25) are the generation most likely to treat themselves more than Millennials, Gen X or Baby Boomers. While Gen Z  may not possess the greatest amount of purchasing power, they tend to have lower expenses as they are less likely to have dependents.


The report is based on foodmrx’s data from interviewing 1,000 different consumers monthly via surveys and video interviews. The company also ran an additional study of290 UK consumers on how they are treating themselves.


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