2017 was a good year for global consumers, with consumer confidence ending the year at a near-record level. Notably, 51 markets finished the year with higher confidence than they did in 2016, and the gains were bigger than 2 points in 46 markets.
Backed by improving global consumer confidence, many regions are seeing improved conditions for businesses and the fast-moving consumer goods industry. Here, we’ll look at trends in a few select countries.
In contrast to the ongoing market challenges facing global fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) manufacturers and retailers, consumers are in better spirits than they were at the end of 2016. In fact, global consumer confidence has risen three index points since the close of last year.
Global consumer confidence increased modestly in 2016, a time of great political and economic change around the world, rising three points between the first and fourth quarters to 101. Confidence scores finished the year more strongly than they began in every region except Africa/Middle East.
While the third quarter of 2016 saw considerable economic diversity across the markets measured by Nielsen’s Global Survey, consumer confidence in the U.S. remained on solid footing with a score of 106, despite a decline of seven points from the second quarter.
Third-quarter 2016 global consumer confidence remained stable at 99, up one point from the second quarter and unchanged from third-quarter 2015. Country-level scores, however, varied dramatically throughout the regions, reflecting considerable economic diversity around the world.
Notching a one-point increase from the first quarter, European consumer confidence was largely stable in the second quarter of 2016, at 79. Notably, consumer confidence improved from the first quarter in 22 of the 34 measured markets in the European region.
Global consumer confidence held steady in the second quarter of 2016 at 98, an index score that was flat from the first quarter and two points higher than a year earlier. North America was the only region to sustain growth momentum in the second quarter, demonstrating a three-point increase in confidence to 111.
Consumer confidence declined four points in the U.K. (97) and one point in Germany (97) in the first quarter of 2016, as a favorable outlook for jobs worsened. Job prospect sentiment and immediate spending intentions also fell in in both countries.
Though global consumer confidence remained stable in the first quarter, there was notable variation on a country-by-country basis, and many markets noted a growing recessionary sentiment. In fact, six in 10 global respondents believed their nation’s economy was in recession in the first quarter.
Multinationals should not turn their backs on emerging market consumers. Some rebalancing toward developed markets makes sense in the near term as their relative strength improves, but it must not come entirely at the expense of investment in emerging markets.
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More than half (55%) of respondents around the world believed they were in recession in the fourth quarter of 2015, a modest increase from the start of that year (53%)—and a level that often exceeds official economic definitions.
Global consumer confidence ended 2015 on a subdued note as the index declined two points from the third quarter to 97. Compared to first-quarter 2015, confidence in the fourth quarter remained flat in Asia-Pacific at 107, while Europe edged up four points to 81. All other regions ended the year less confident than they started.
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U.S. consumer confidence jumped 18 index points in the third quarter of 2015 to a score of 119 after a six-point decline in the previous quarter. The score marked the biggest quarterly increase and the highest index for the country in Nielsen’s 10-year consumer confidence history.
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While consumer confidence declined in 10 of 14 Asia-Pacific markets, the region still leads all global regions with an index score of 107. Among the four markets that improved from the previous quarter, the Philippines showed the biggest quarterly country-level confidence increase of seven index points, rising to a score of 122—the country’s highest level on record.
U.S. consumer confidence decreased six index points in the second quarter to a score of 101, but it remained at an above-the-baseline optimistic level. Consumer confidence in Canada increased two points to 98 after declining six points in the first quarter. Despite these declines, confidence in both markets remained above the global average of 96.
The slowing pace of Chinese economic growth underscores the country’s need to transition from an investment- and export-led growth model to one powered by consumption. But how long will that transition take? The answer is crucial to companies looking to ride what will eventually be the next extraordinary surge in consumer spending in China.
The way we view the economy and what’s in our wallets can have a direct impact on our willingness to spend and save. As such, it’s no surprise that changes in consumer confidence can influence the actions consumers say they take to save on household expenses. And as global consumer confidence declined in Q2, saving strategies continued to permeate the mindset of consumers around the world.
Any multinational looking for solid growth should be taking a hard look at India. In 2015, India’s economy will grow faster than China’s for the first time in 16 years. In fact, the IMF forecasts India’s GDP growth to expand by 7.5% this year and next.
While global sentiment about personal finances and the costs of living has been trending up for about two years now, men and women aren’t exactly on the same page when it comes to what’s in their pockets. Generally speaking, women see a bright side, but men are seeing an even brighter side.