Survey: Responsibility and digitalisation are key trends in consumption – many feel that changes brought by the coronavirus pandemic are permanent

News, Press release

A survey conducted by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, Finnish Textile & Fashion and YIT focused on consumption behaviour during the coronavirus pandemic and consumer expectations for the future. Consumers have used more digital services during the pandemic and believe that using the services will continue to grow in the future. Consumers expect responsibility not only from themselves but also from companies. The majority of consumers are optimistic about the future.

There have been clear changes in Finnish people’s lifestyles during the coronavirus pandemic. Consumption has generally decreased. 49% of the respondents reported that they had been buying less goods. However, about half of consumers have been using more digital services and services located close to their home. 

“Responsibility and environmental awareness in consumption have become more significant”, says Kaisa Vehmas, Senior Scientist at VTT. 58% of consumers reported that they were trying to reduce their material consumption. During the coronavirus pandemic, 41% have spent more time than before considering their purchases, and 39% said they had purchased more products manufactured in Finland. Up to 70% estimated that they will buy more Finnish products and services in the future.  

67% of the respondents reported that they were concerned about the state of the planet and about half felt that they were actively promoting sustainable development in their lives. This was reflected, for example, in the extension of the service life of the products. Two out of three consumers either repair broken products themselves or have these repaired. The majority of Finns also strive to make use of goods they do not need either by selling them or by donating them. 

Consumers also stressed the importance of corporate responsibility. 67% of the respondents emphasised that companies had the main responsibility for the sustainability and ecological aspects of goods.

Coronavirus pandemic has strengthened a home-centric lifestyle

During the pandemic, 71% of Finns have been spending more time at home, and 68% feel that the significance of the home will continue to increase in the future. The things people do at their homes are increasingly diverse.

Recycling of household waste and low-electricity household appliances are among the most important issues for Finns when it comes to the sustainability of housing, and many also find the use of different environmentally friendly energy forms and smart building technology solutions important.

Around one third of the respondents have worked remotely during the coronavirus pandemic. Of those who work remotely, 62% reported that they do not have a separate office at home; instead, they work in other rooms, such as the bedroom, the living room or the kitchen. About one out of five respondents said that they were living in multiple locations, such as at home and at their cottage.

“The increased significance of the home is also reflected in how Finns are willing to invest more in housing, also financially”, says Pekka Helin, Senior Vice President in charge of Customer Relations and Housing Services at YIT. “Alongside the home, peacefulness and proximity to nature are gaining more emphasis, and the use of cars and pedestrian traffic is appreciated in mobility,” continues Helin.

Buying clothes online has increased

The purchase of textiles has shifted from shops to online retailers. About a quarter of consumers reported they had been buying more clothes online during the coronavirus pandemic. As a rule, consumers also plan their clothing and interior decoration textile purchases by visiting online shops and browsing online.

The pursuit of responsibility is also visible in the way consumers buy clothing. Sustainability and quality were the most important factors influencing the purchase decision in 61% of respondents. More than one fifth of the respondents reported that their purchasing decision was affected by manufacturing in Finland and the brand when buying clothes and household textiles. Consumers are also interested in the separate collection of unusable textile waste and the purchase of clothes made from recycled fibres. 

“Climate emissions in the sector can be significantly reduced by increasing the number of times a garment is used and the use of recycled fibres in materials”, says Sanna Vassinen, Statistics Specialist at Finnish Textile & Fashion.

Experience of permanent change

Some of the changes brought by the pandemic seem permanent. According to 37% of the respondents, the coronavirus pandemic had permanently changed their lifestyle, while 40% believed it had changed their values and 40% their consumption habits. Such an experience of a change was particularly common among women.

In general, the Finnish respondents were cautiously optimistic about the future, which was also a key observation in a qualitative study previously carried out by VTT. 61% of the respondents were optimistic about the future and 44% believed that life would return to normal. 

“I find it a worrying signal that those aged 25–44 were the least optimistic. Spending time alone has become increasingly common, especially among 18–24-year-olds. In the younger age groups, almost a quarter of the respondents had stopped a hobby, but on the other hand, many had started some new recreational activity”, says VTT researcher Pauli Komonen.

Survey implementation:

1,000 Finns responded to the survey. The survey data is nationally representative of the age group of 18–75-year-olds by age, gender and place of residence. The survey data was collected in an online panel of Bilendi Oy. 

Kaisa Vehmas
Kaisa Vehmas
Senior Specialist
Pauli Komonen
Pauli Komonen
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