The ideal consumer is a myth. Our new report examines the characteristics of people who make the best shopping decisions. Do you believe that older people make better choices?
Our choices as consumers are becoming more and more important every day. Stagnant wages, combined with the rising cost of living, mean that making the wrong decision can be more costly than ever.
And we are increasingly taking responsibility for things that used to be decided for us. Many of us are making decisions about how to save for retirement, and public services give us more options than ever before.
Yet new Which? research has found that many of us do not always make the best decisions.
Last year, our research showed that people in the UK are missing out on £13bn a year by not moving our savings from low-interest accounts. We also know that over half of working people are not currently saving for a pension even when we all know we should be.
Who is the real consumer?
Yesterday we published our report into consumer literacy, looking at how good at being consumers most people are. The report examines whether the ideal consumer, who never makes mistakes, actually exists.
We created a model of an ideal consumer and conducted a survey of over 5,000 people, comparing their responses to our model. Our sketch of the ideal consumer was divided into three sections: how skilled consumers are in their shopping, how knowledgeable people are about their consumer rights, and how engaged people are in the processes of shopping.
Older, smarter, richer
The results we found are clear – only one in every 250 people even comes close to being an ideal consumer.
We found that older, more educated people with higher incomes are the most likely to be ‘good’ consumers (ie in the top 25% of the population). Younger, less educated people with lower incomes are more likely to score poorly (ie in the bottom 25%).
The most interesting thing we found is that older people, despite scoring better than younger people overall, don’t score much better in terms of their knowledge and skills. They are much more engaged in their purchasing decisions than their younger counterparts, however. This suggests that older people just make better decisions, despite not necessarily being more equipped to do so.
Do you think that older people tend to make better consumer decisions? Is it because older people tend to have more time to spend on making decisions? Or does this show that older really does mean wiser?