How the most financially stressed consumers are finding joy

Our TGI data reveals around a third of British adults today are feeling stressed and unhappy
19 June 2024
Overwhelmed consumers
James Powell

Marketing Director, UK & Ireland

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In the cost-of-living crisis many consumers have been feeling unhappy with their life situation and worried for the future, due chiefly to the financial pressures they are under.

It is important that marketers understand such consumers so they are able to understand what drives them and engage them appropriately. Using our GB TGI data we took a look at all adults who agree or disagree (as indicated) with at least two of the following four statements:

  • Agree: "There's little I can do to change my life"
  • Agree: "I worry a lot about myself"
  • Disagree: "I am perfectly happy with my standard of living"
  • Disagree: "I am very happy with my life as it is"

GB TGI reveals that 32% of Brits today fit into this ‘overwhelmed’ group, up from 24% in 2018.

GB TGI reveals that 32% of Brits today fit into this ‘overwhelmed’ group, up from 24% in 2018 

Fulfilment through 'mindful' activities

These consumers who feel overwhelmed are seeking ways in which – within the confines of the financial challenges they face – they can feel more fulfilled in life. To that end, TGI reveals a shift in recent years among this group to greater adoption of mindful activities, which not only went up during the pandemic, but have since remained high. 

These include creative activities such as drawing, painting, writing and playing a musical instrument.

The home as a cocoon

Over three quarters of these overwhelmed consumers claim they like spending a lot of their free time at home, whilst 72% say they prefer to spend a quiet evening at home than go out. It is important for marketers seeking to engage this group to consider how they can appeal to these consumers within the context of where they feel most at ease.

One way is through appealing to their sense of purpose around interior decoration. TGI shows that this overwhelmed group are 30% more likely than average adult to say they change the décor of their home as often as they can and 25% more likely to ‘definitely agree’ they like simple décor with minimal furniture and clutter.

Similarly, around half of them (49%) say they are always looking for new ideas to improve their home.

Snacking as a stress response

Overwhelmed consumers are 47% more likely to say they snack because they are stressed.

This fits with the increase we have seen in snacking behaviour in recent years. The proportion of overwhelmed consumers who say they eat chocolate bars and other chocolate items has risen from 32% in 2018 to 38% today.

Similarly, the proportion who claim to consume instant savoury snacks and ready-to-eat salads has risen from 12% in 2018 to 17% today, with brand such as Mini Cheddars and Rotz Crackers especially popular.

The proportion who claim to consume instant savoury snacks and ready-to-eat salads has risen from 12% in 2018 to 17% today

Escapism through media choices

The sense of feeling trapped in their lives is reflected in overwhelmed consumers being significantly more likely than the average adult to engage with escapist-themed content at the cinema and when watching TV and video. 

TGI reveals that they are particularly likely to say they like superhero and fantasy films at the cinema and animation/manga content on live TV and VOD platforms.

Price conscious, but loyal to brands offering value

Although under financial pressure, overwhelmed consumers will spend with companies they feel they can trust on price.

TGI shows they are 24% more likely to say when doing the household shopping they budget for every penny.

Yet at the same time they are 23% more likely than the average adult to agree that if a company offers competitive prices they will use them regularly.

Despite pressures, overwhelmed adults more likely to spend with companies they trust on price


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