Shoppers are curbing their spending and becoming more cautious with their purchases in the current economic climate, according to the annual Shopper Experience Index from leading provider of user-generated content (UGC) solutions, Bazaarvoice.

The data also indicates consumers are relying more heavily on UGC such as ratings, reviews, and shopper photos, to make decisions and that social media impacts every stage of the shopping journey.

Australian consumers are among the most cautious, with close to three-quarters (73.9%) stating they have altered their shopping habits and 80.2% reporting they have cut back on discretionary spending. 

Most Australians (approximately 66%) have also reduced spending on ‘practical’ (described as justifiable and reasonable items) and ‘delayable’ (shopping that can be postponed) purchases.

The only area that has seen smaller reductions is in ‘essential’ purchases (considered necessary for survival or healthy living), with 29.2% reducing spending, 20.3% increasing it, and 49.8% maintaining previous levels. 

More than eight in ten Australian shoppers (80.5%) say they are relying on content from other consumers as much or more than they did last year to make purchasing decisions. They primarily seek information related to value for money (65%), product quality (49%), and if the item suits their intended use (45.9%). The survey reveals that a significant percentage of respondents feel more confident in a purchase when they use shopper content (61.7%) and are unlikely to buy a product without shopper content (39%). 

Bazaarvoice managing director for Asia Pacific, Kate Musgrove said, “This year’s study underscores the economic impact on Australian shoppers’ behaviours and their reduction in spending. The data also reveals how, in times like these, consumers depend even more on fellow shoppers for advice and view social media as their primary source for product discovery and purchases.”

According to the survey, social media significantly impacts shopping behaviour, from product discovery to purchasing decisions, with 49.1% of respondents agreeing that they often discover products or services through social media channels.