Attitudes relating to responsibility and consumption usually change slowly. Recent major changes, the pandemic, Brexit, the war in Ukraine and accelerating inflation, however, can accelerate the change, and therefore it is important to understand the change in Finnish attitudes. It is particularly interesting to watch “pioneer digital shoppers”, or customers who make a lot of digital purchases and are particularly interested in new developments in online purchasing.
“Pioneer digital shoppers are shaping the market and ways of buying in online purchasing and the commerce sector in general,” says Jaana Kurjenoja, Chief Economist at the Finnish Commerce Federation.
According to the Finnish Commerce Federation’s survey*, the number of pioneer digital shoppers increased during the pandemic, so their influence on the market has increased.
“Pioneer digital shoppers have typically been more price-conscious than other consumer and more indifferent to many questions associated with responsibility, and it looks like this is now changing,” says Jaana Kurjenoja, summing up the observations of the survey.
Responsible consumers buy sustainable products
According to Finns of all ages, buying sustainable products is the most significant factor defining responsible consumers.
Approximately 70 per cent of the Finns are also willing to pay a premium price for sustainable products, and this share has not changed much compared to pre-pandemic times. Interestingly, for pioneer digital shoppers, who are very price-driven, the willingness to pay for sustainability has risen to the level of the rest of the population.
In spite of the popularity of fast and cheap fashion, the appreciation of sustainability can also be seen in an international comparison of criteria for clothing purchases, according to which the sustainability of clothes and materials is clearly more important to Finns than to Germans, Brits or Swedes.
Buying sustainable new products and the will to pay for them create the prerequisites for a second-hand market, which has been developing quickly during the last five years.
“While the second-hand market was mainly considered to be a threat some five years ago, many companies now see business opportunities in it,” Kurjenoja says.
Buying second-hand products is more common in Finland than in the comparison countries of the survey, Germany, United Kingdom and Sweden.
Corporate social responsibility defines a responsible company
Favouring companies that fulfill their corporate social responsibility is considered to be the second most important feature of responsible consumption, meaning companies that provide employment, invest and pay taxes in Finland. In particular, consumers aged 35 or over think like this; 57 per cent of them consider it responsible to favour companies that fulfill their corporate social responsibility in Finland.
This is also reflected in the views of a responsible company. Almost 60 per cent of the respondents say that fulfilling corporate social responsibility in Finland defines the responsibility of a company. The majority, almost 70 per cent of the Finns, would also like to favour shops that fulfill corporate social responsibility in Finland. The willingness to pay for it is, however, slightly lower, but nevertheless 46 per cent were also prepared to pay premium prices if the company provides employment, invests and pays taxes in Finland.
At the same time, suspicions concerning product safety and consumer protection have begun to increase the popularity of European and domestic e-commerce compared to Asian e-commerce, particularly among pioneer digital shoppers, or those who have often looked for a low price and new shops and market platforms from abroad.
“Finnish commerce now has several responsibility-related competitive advantages, as long as they are communicated credibly and reliably,” Kurjenoja says.
Is transport speed a critical criterion?
In the world of e-commerce, it has commonly been thought that the delivery speed of products is a critical criterion when choosing a shop. In particular, this has been the case in markets where Amazon has gained ground and competed with both prices and speed.
According to the survey by the Finnish Commerce Federation, one in four consumers do consider delivery speed an important criterion, but one in three do not consider it to be that important. Pioneer digital shoppers also appreciate quick delivery more than others, but they are also more prepared to compromise on it if slower delivery was more ecological.
“Naturally, the importance of delivery speed also varies by product category. A freezer that has failed during a hot summer or a broken phone charger needs to be quickly replaced, but consumers are prepared to wait for many products more calmly. This is evident from pick-up point lockers becoming full,” Kurjenoja notes.
Finnish people are also less eager to order products by separate express shipment, often subject to a charge, than Germans, Brits or the Swedes. Approximately one in ten Finnish consumers order express delivery for their online purchases, while the share among the Brits is 28 per cent.
For further information, please contact: Jaana Kurjenoja, Chief Economist, Finnish Commerce Federation, tel. +358 (0)40 820 5378, jaana.kurjenoja(at)kauppa.fi
* The international comparison of the survey is based on Statista consumer surveys in Finland, Germany, the United Kingdom and Sweden. The Finnish attitude survey is based on a consumer survey designed by Jaana Kurjenoja. The data was compiled by Kantar TNS three times through its online panel: in January 2020, September 2020 and May 2022. Each time, the sample of the survey was 3,000 adults living in continental Finland.