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Published November 21st 2022

The Future of Mobility and the Cost of Living: How Consumers Plan to Adapt

The rising cost of living has an impact on consumer behavior in different areas. How are consumers talking about mobility and what changes are they planning to make?

The year 2022 was a pivotal one. With the European economy already struggling with high inflation and supply problems, the ongoing war in Ukraine further obscures the prospects of a post-pandemic economic recovery. Ultimately, the prices have gone nowhere but up, leaving consumers desperate for ways to save money. 

Mobility is one area where consumers are looking for ways to save money. The high gas prices and rising insurance and repair costs have increased expenses for car owners. This article looks at how consumers talk about mobility and the rising cost of living online, what emotions they express, and what changes they plan to make.

Fuel prices is a key topic

The rising cost of living is a big topic online. In our recent report, The Cost of Living and Changing Consumer Behavior, we analyzed over 8 Mio. mentions between January 1 and August 31 2022. Consumers discuss the latest developments and actions from governments, how they plan to make adjustments for themselves, and ask for advice about what others are doing. Unsurprisingly,this topic doesn’t generate a lot of positively: 92% of sentiment-categorized mentions are negative. 

In these consumer conversations, rising fuel prices are one of the most talked about topics, landing in third place after groceries, electricity, and other bills. Rising fuel prices are in the top three talking points around the cost of living in English, French, Spanish, and Italian. In German-speaking conversations, it’s even in first place. There, government actions to reduce the effect of rising fuel prices lead to a lot of online discussions.

Rising car prices and supply problems cause frustration 

For some, driving a car is a lifestyle choice. For others, it’s the absolute only way to get from A to B, especially in rural areas. Rising fuel prices have a great financial impact on people that are dependent on driving a car. With Consumer Research, we can get a better understanding of how people feel from analyzing the conversations online. 

The emotion consumers express the most when talking about cars is anger. Apart from complaints about the behavior of other car drivers and the time it takes to get the car fixed in an auto shop, money is one of the main things mentioned online.

Supply chain shortages are another big topic in those angry car conversations. Delivery issues and the global chip shortage has led to long waiting times for car buyers and, ultimately, to higher prices. As buying new is a challenge, consumers are pushed toward the used car market. The uptick in demand for used cars also caused prices to climb. With prices on the rise in many countries, this problem will continue in 2023. 

Switching to e-cars in the hope of saving money

What actions are consumers planning to take to adjust to the rising cost of living? The topic that stood out is e-cars.  

Some consumers think about switching to e-cars and hope to save money in the long term. Others are discussing how long they can afford their petrol- or diesel car. Consumers also talk about the affordability of e-cars and how much it costs to charge an e-car. 

In terms of emotions, consumers express a lot of sadness when discussing e-cars. From all analyzed consumer mobility topics, e-cars have the highest percentage of sad mentions, which is driven by the high price of e-cars. People say they would like to buy e-cars, but they simply can’t afford it.

More public transportion, less driving

While the pandemic led people to use less public transport due to safety reasons and lockdowns, the situation has changed post-pandemic. Our data shows that consumers either want to use public transport more or completely switch to using the bus, metro, or train. This goes hand in hand with consumers saying they plan to drive less. People are trying to save money by switching to public transport and leaving the car at home. 

Switching to public transport is much more relevant in German- and French-speaking conversations than other analyzed languages. Governments are taking actions to motivate people to use public transport. The German government offered a special public transport ticket at an affordable price over the summer. In Spain, traveling by train is free from September till the end of this year. 

Ways of driving more economically 

People for whom it isn't an option to switch to public transportation look for other ways to save on fuel. Driving more economically is one of the main talking points in the cost of living and mobility discussions. This includes driving at a steady pace or choosing a more fuel-efficient route. 

Looking at the emotions expressed shows that German-speaking car drivers are not at all thrilled about the idea of driving economically, which shows when comparing the sentiment to English-, French, Italian-, or Spanish-speaking drivers. This is mainly fueled by discussions of implementing a speed limit on German highways, which caused a lot of negative mentions. 

The cost of living and changing consumer behavior 

Consumer behavior is changing rapidly and it will not slow down anytime soon. Brands need to be aware of these shifts to be able to stay ahead of their competitors. In our latest report, we take a look at consumer conversations around the cost of living, covering the latest consumer trends, and their changes in behavior and shopping.

Discover more consumer insights in our The Cost of Living report here.

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