Wallet a key driver of Dutch shoppers’ purchase decisions

Global Consumer Insights Survey 2021 – Pulse 2

In PwC's twelfth annual Global Consumer Insights Survey, we look at consumer behaviour, based on findings from more than 8,700 participants from 22 countries. Consumer preferences had already started to shift prior to the pandemic, and many trends - including the shift to online, were accelerated due to the imposed social-distancing measures. In response to this, we shifted to a pulse approach.

Pulse 1 was released earlier this year, and results from Pulse 2 largely confirms Dutch consumer sentiment relative to the global average.


shop local to support neighbourhood shops.


consider price as the most important factor when it comes to shopping sustainably.


increased their online shopping in the past six months.


indicate that the most important reason to visit a physical store is to see and touch a product.

Wallet compared to heart

At the start of the pandemic, the Dutch showed solidarity with local, independent businesses – 33% of Dutch consumers say they shop more at these businesses to support them, compared to 45% globally. This solidarity has increased considerably: in the Netherlands, the share grew to 43% compared to 51% globally. Despite the increase, Dutch consumers still appear to be driven by their wallet more than by their heart. Price and convenience are still more important to them than supporting local retailers. It should be noted that the Dutch retail market is characterized by a relatively high degree of consolidation, especially in the grocery sector, which limits the options to shop with local businesses.

Global Consumer Insights Survey
Global Consumer Insights Survey

Wallet compared to ESG

When it comes to shopping, the Dutch appear to be less concerned with sustainability when compared to the global average, particularly when looking at the following elements:

  • selecting products with traceable and transparent origins,
  • buying from environmentally conscious companies, and
  • selecting products with sustainability certifications.

27% of Dutch consumers indicate that when it comes to shopping sustainably, price is still primarily dictates their choice. Other important factors are the lack of sustainable options (18%) or the general lack of interest in sustainably or ethically produced products.

The global results of our survey show that sustainable shopping is higher on the agenda for consumers in Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. This may be explained by the fact that people in these parts of the world are more directly confronted by the effects of pollution, for example the notorious smog in major Chinese cities and the amount of plastic littering the beaches of several Southeast Asian countries.

Brand loyalty drivers

A quarter of respondents consider a company’s ability to deliver on its brand promise as the primary driver of their loyalty to that particular brand. The next driver is the company’s ethical conduct (10%), and rounding up the top 3 drivers is exceptional customer service which comes in at 9%.

Global Consumer Insights Survey
Global Consumer Insights Survey

The shift to online continues

45% of Dutch consumers say they have become more comfortable with online shopping in the past six months – this is close to the global sentiment of 51% and further confirms the overall trend of the ever-accelerating shift to online. The same percentage of Dutch consumers (45%) say they have been shopping more online in the past six months (compared to 39% globally). Dutch consumers turn to online channels particularly when shopping for fashion (64%) and consumer electronics (53%). For both product categories, more favourable pricing is the main reason for going online (32%), followed, unsurprisingly, by the temporary closure of physical stores (31%).

Dutch consumers are relatively less worried about their data security compared to their global peers

A good return policy (15%) and product availability (15%) are the more important factors when deciding where to shop online in the Netherlands. Only 31 % indicate they have become more data conscious compared to 46% globally. This may be due to geographical differences in the varying levels of local governance and the overall trust in institutions. This is illustrated when we look at the responses from Western Europe where, only 35% are concerned about the security of their data, and compare this to Afterica and the Middle East, and Eastern Europe, where 58% and 59% of respondents, respectively, are concerned about the security of their data.

Global Consumer Insights Survey
Global Consumer Insights Survey

Brick-and-mortar is not dead…

Groceries is still the main product group which drives Dutch consumers to physical stores. 40% reduced visits to physical grocery stores in the past six months, while the reduction was 60% for all product groups combined. Convenience remains to be the main driving factor.

The leading factor, with 23% of responses, for Dutch consumers to visit a physical store is to have the opportunity to see and touch the product prior to purchase. However, when deciding to visit stores health and safety measures are heavily considered - particularly requirements for face masks (21%) and frequency of shop cleaning (15%). It would be in retailers best interest to maintain a shopping environment where shoppers can perceive a sense of concern for health and safety.

…but are consumers doing enough to maintain a pulse?

50% of Dutch consumers indicate that they are moderately to extremely concerned about the survival of the brick-and-mortar stores in their local shopping area due to the ongoing shift to online. 

However, with 45% of Dutch consumers increasing their online shopping, the concerns about the survival of local shops does not seem to directly translate into more spending at such stores.

Contact us

Milo Hartendorf

Milo Hartendorf

Consumer Markets Industry Leader, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)62 299 15 98

Bruno van Bennekom

Bruno van Bennekom

Director Consumer Markets, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)68 300 07 02

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