Written by 12:00 Member, Sustainable Finance, TOP-NEWS

Consumers Demand a Rethink on Globalisation

For their new study “The Way Back Home”, Oliver Wyman and gfu Consumer & Home Electronics GmbH each surveyed more than 1,000 people from five major economies about their consumption behaviour of electrical household appliances and consumer electronics.

The manufacturers of electrical household appliances and consumer electronics are facing an increasingly critical attitude towards globalisation on the part of consumers in Germany and worldwide. Consumers are paying more attention to where companies are based and attach more importance to local production. In addition, climate protection and fair working conditions are coming into focus. This is shown in the international study “The Way Back Home” by strategy consultants Oliver Wyman and gfu Consumer & Home Electronics GmbH, organiser of the IFA in Berlin. Companies with local roots and a sustainable supply chain thus have competitive advantages.

Whether smartphones, televisions or washing machines – buyers of electrical appliances and consumer electronics increasingly attach importance to manufacturers producing in their home country or having their headquarters there. The growing attention to local roots is the result of an increasingly globalisation-critical attitude among customers. In Germany, for example, just over half (54 %) of people think that today’s world is too globalised – only just under a quarter (22 %) think the opposite. Germany is thus in the middle of the field of globalisation sceptics, according to the results of the study “The Way Back Home”. This was conducted by the strategy consultancy Oliver Wyman together with gfu Consumer & Home Electronics GmbH. “Consumers are taking manufacturers to task more today,” explains Dr Sara Warneke, Managing Director of gfu, which organises the IFA trade fair in Berlin. “They have to prove and communicate more clearly that their products are good for people and good for the environment.”

Oliver Wyman and gfu surveyed buyers of household appliances and consumer electronics in five countries. and consumer electronics in five countries. People in India (91%) and France (70%) are particularly sceptical about globalisation, whereas in China (46%) and the USA (44%) the camp of those who question a worldwide division of labour makes up less than half of the population. “The time has come to an end when many people ignored production conditions when shopping,” says Warneke. According to the survey, interdependencies between countries are seen as increasingly problematic in all countries. “Criticism of the internationalisation of the economy has become a broad trend. For companies, rooting or manufacturing within the country is thus becoming a more significant competitive differentiator.”

Corona and Ukraine war accelerate rethink

Young and academically educated people are disproportionately represented in the group of globalisation critics. academically educated people. However, the internationalisation of the economy is being questioned more strongly across all strata of the population, says Dr. Martin Schulte, partner at Oliver Wyman and co-author of the study. He cites the Corona crisis and the Ukraine war as important causes for this. “Given disrupted supply chains and the palpable risks of dependence on autocracies, the question of local presence and production is gaining importance.” The increase in agreement with the statement “It is important to me where a brand is headquartered” was particularly high in Germany – the study found an increase of 19 per cent compared to the period before 2020. The increase in the statement “It is important to me where the brand produces” was 14 per cent in this country.

The origin of household appliances and consumer electronics is gaining in importance across the gaining in importance. Two-thirds of respondents profess a stronger preference for brands that have their headquarters in their home country. About three quarters attribute increased importance to local manufacturing. At the same time, a transparent supply chain is expected “Consumers also want to know where the components of the products are made and base their purchasing decisions on this,” says Schulte. This applies to all countries under consideration. Buyers also expect higher quality and more sustainability from domestic production. Whereas the formula that globalisation brings more advantages than disadvantages used to apply, today 61 percent of Germans wave this statement aside. “This is a surprising result for Germany as an export nation,” says Schulte.

Climate protection as a global community project

When it comes to climate protection and sustainability issues, however, people in Germany are in favour of transnational cooperation. Consumers see climate protection predominantly as a global community project,” says Oliver Wyman expert Schulte. Manufacturers could score points here with a good sustainability strategy. “Companies with a green supply chain have a good chance of expanding their market position,” says Schulte. “They can aggressively emphasise in communication that they are not part of the problem, but part of the solution.”

About the study

Oliver Wyman and gfu Consumer & Home Electronics GmbH surveyed more than 1,000 consumers in each of five countries for the study “The Way Back Home” in August 2022: in the two most populous countries China and India, the world’s leading economy USA, as well as Germany and France as the two EU countries with the highest gross domestic product. All five countries are among the seven largest economies in the world and have extensive international trade relations.


Here you can download the entire study in PDF format (English).

Source: Press Release Oliver Wyman
Cover Image: Unsplash

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