As many as 35% of Indian consumers described their financial situation as deteriorating. 46% view the country’s general economic outlook negatively. These are some of the highlights of the Global Issues Barometer report published by Kantar, a global data analytics and brand consultancy firm. The report, based on surveys of 11,000 respondents – including 800 Indians – in 19 countries, contains key insights into consumer habits and attitudes as the world struggles to cope with a general economic crisis and the ongoing climate crisis. 71% of participants across the world are of the opinion that inflation, fueled in part by the Russian-Ukrainian war which remains a top concern for all consumers, including those in India, will continue to rise.
For urban Indians, rising living costs mean they now find buying common household items such as fridges, washing machines and air conditioners much more difficult than their global counterparts. 32% of households in India struggle to meet their monthly expenses like rent and mortgage. This has brought about some changes in people’s spending and saving habits. Commenting on the same to Business Insider India, Soumya Mohanty of Kantar’s South Asia division said, “Consumers will cut more…cars, durable goods and mobile phones. Mohanty noted that “there is a growing concern about life plans and the cost of living.”
Indians have been facing steadily rising prices for quite some time now. Rising retail inflation and a never-ending fuel price hike weighed on spending. In January this year, Mint reported, based on a survey conducted in conjunction with the Center for Policy Research, that 76% of urban Indians felt their household spending had increased in 2021. In 2020, that number was 57%. Additionally, in May, the ninth EY Future Consumer Index for India noted that the rising cost of living has prompted more Indians to save rather than spend. Low-income groups have been hardest hit by these rising monthly costs.
Kantar’s report reinforces these earlier findings and further mentions that 74% of Indians felt that the ever-increasing living expenses now also had an impact on their long-term plans. While earlier reports had indicated that Indians had cut back on spending to save more, the Global Issues Barometer found that urban Indians are now saving less as they find it increasingly difficult to cope with a general increase in fuel prices. fuel, monthly bills, and food and beverage prices. According to Mohanty, “future savings for the children’s education or their own retirement are on hold, (and) they’re actually prioritizing ‘here and now’…they’re going to reduce the amount of…the savings…and they’re going to work harder than other countries — even longer hours to make enough money.
The report comes at a time when there is already a global burnout crisis in the workforce around the world. Workers are feeling increasingly exhausted and alienated from their jobs, leading to high levels of employee stress. Workers’ uncertainty about the permanence of their job and the expectation of employers to be readily available for any task are the main drivers of the recent increase in burnout. The situation is further complicated by the internalized guilt and shame that follow burnout. This is a downfall of the rise of the hustle culture, which has led people to put their jobs ahead of themselves, even at the expense of their health.
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The Kantar report also highlights the diminishing concern of global and Indian users towards Covid-19. The still-ongoing pandemic is no longer considered an urgent problem worldwide, although a new contagious variant has caused a surge in Europe and the United States.
A key shift the study noted among consumers is the rise in eco-anxiety caused by climate inaction and the desire for eco-friendly and simultaneously affordable brands and products. The researchers also noted that while many want to switch to more environmentally sustainable products, they also don’t see why the bounty of wanting to save the planet should fall on them. Consumers widely felt that companies must take responsibility for solving the climate crisis and that brands should work more on the affordability of green products.
The report points out that unlike the rest of the world, Indians do not want to believe that the responsibility for improving the economic and financial situation lies entirely with the authorities. Instead, the Indians are of the view that fixing the current situation would also require a joint effort on the part of the citizens. The report comes at a time when the state enacted a new labor code, which, among other things, allowed employers to extend daily work hours from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. The willingness of workers to work longer hours, dictated by the need to keep up with ever-increasing inflation, can potentially be deliberately misinterpreted to introduce compulsory long office hours. Furthermore, failure to see the state – which clearly wields far more power and capacity to execute than individuals – as largely responsible for improving economic conditions or working conditions may reduce its responsibility to the people, which can be a breeding ground for further environmental degradation. the economy, ultimately resulting in even higher costs of living for the public.