The UK and US markets mirror each other in many ways, and our data often highlights just how similar American and British consumers are. But it also shines a light on the differences between them.
In our annual consumer trends report, produced for both the UK and the US, we found there were 10 areas of notable differences. For brands that play in both markets, these variations are worth knowing before planning any dual-market sales and marketing campaigns.
While they’re not all massive, even the subtle differences can call for a different approach. Understanding where the UK and US diverge when it comes to key consumer trends for 2022 will help make your messaging as effective as possible in each nation.
Americans are feeling more positive than Brits
Despite voicing concerns about the economy, American consumers have a more positive outlook than their British counterparts. They’re nearly twice as likely to say they’re feeling ‘very positive’ at the moment; 29% versus 15% of Brits.
American Millennials, in particular, are looking on the bright side – over 36% of those aged 26-40 say they feel very positive right now. But on the other side of the pond, it’s Gen Z (aged 18-25) who are most likely to feel very positive (20%).
Brits and Americans want brands to take a stand on different social issues
We asked consumers to tell us about the top social issues they want brands to take a stand on, and we found that the UK and the US have different priorities. In the UK, climate change is the biggest issue; 42% of people believe it’s something brands should be taking action on.
Yet in the US, climate change is only the third most important issue for brands to address. Americans think poverty and inequality, as well as racism are the most pressing issues, with 36% of consumers wanting brands to speak out about them.
Gen Z have a higher tolerance for email marketing in the UK
Looking to connect with a young audience? Email marketing will be much more effective in the UK than in America. Gen Z Brits have the most tolerance out of all the demographics for hearing from brands frequently in their inbox. They over-index for being happy to receive email ‘daily’ and ‘several times a week’.
It’s a different story in the US, where Gen Z show the lowest receptiveness to email marketing, and they’re the demographic most likely to not want to hear from brands in their inbox at all (18%). You’ll have more luck with this age group on TikTok; 45% connect with brands on the platform.
Americans are more likely to engage with brands on social media than Brits
Americans spend more time on social media each day than Brits and are more likely to interact with brands when they’re there. Nearly a third of Americans spend three or more hours per day scrolling social media versus 27% of Brits.
In the States, 83% of people say they follow and interact with brands on social media but, in the UK, it’s a lower 75.5% of people. We also see a notable difference in behaviour between UK and US Boomers; the majority of Brits aged 55-66 say they don’t interact with brands on social media (51%) but only 32% of Americans in this age group say the same.
Brits are bigger online shoppers than Americans
In the UK, half of consumers habitually shop online for non-food products, while this figure is a lower 37% in the US. All demographics favour online shopping in the UK, even British Boomers, 46% of whom shop ‘mostly’ or ‘always’ online. But this age group in the US prefer to shop in-store.
When it comes to food shopping, both nations favour in-store, but the US is significantly more wedded to the supermarket. 60% of Americans habitually do their grocery shopping in-store versus 47% of Brits.
Learn all about shopper insights and how they can give you extra insight into your key customers.
American Millennials are planning the most purchases
When we asked people if they were saving up for any big ticket purchases, it was US Millennials who dominated the responses. This demographic over-indexes for saving for home improvements (27%), a car (39%), mortgage deposit (16%), wedding (11%) and baby equipment (9%). They’re also most likely to be saving for a new business venture (12%), a celebration or party (12%) and cosmetic surgery/dentistry (8%).
Meanwhile, in the UK, there was a much more mixed response. Gen X (aged 41-55) are the demographic most likely to be saving for home improvements (24.5%), while Gen Z are most likely to be saving for a mortgage (20.5%), celebration or party (13%) and cosmetic surgery/dentistry (7%). Millennials only over-index for saving up for a wedding (11%), baby equipment (9%) and a new business venture (8%).
American are eating out more than Brits
Business looks strong for the US restaurant sector, with 45% of people eating out at least once a week and 32% dining out once or twice a month. In the UK, dining out is also bouncing back but people are doing it much less frequently; 21% of people say they eat at a restaurant at least once a week, while 42% do it once or twice a month.
Meanwhile, Brits are more focused on keeping active than their US counterparts; 37% say they do a sporting activity weekly or more frequently, while a lesser 29% of Americans say the same.
Brits are more likely to be enjoying flexible working than Americans
While an almost equal percentage of people in both countries say they’re working from home at least one day a week right now, it’s the Brits who are enjoying the maximum benefit of this new flexibility; 22% say they’re splitting work evenly between home and the office.
In the US, the percentage of workers splitting their week in this way is only 15%. However, Americans are a little more likely to say they WFH all the time (16% versus 13% of Brits).
More Americans got pets during the pandemic than Brits
Nearly 20% of Americans got a new pet during the pandemic – which is quite a lot higher than the 11% of Brits who also got a new furry friend. It means that the US pet product sector should enjoy a notable boost.
The younger demographics are most likely to have welcomed new pets into the family (26% of US Gen Z and 24.5% of US Millennials). The same is true for the UK, where 14% of both Gen Z and Millennials acquired a pet during the pandemic.
Brits are more sustainable than Americans
As we saw earlier, climate change is a bigger issue for Brits and this translates into them practising more sustainable behaviour. Only 6% of Brits say they don’t make any efforts to be sustainable versus 16% of Americans.
Recycling is the top activity for both nations but, in the UK, it’s undertaken by 71.5% of consumers and, in the US, it’s a lesser 50% who separate their waste. Brits are also significantly more likely to be using less single-use plastic (42% versus 25%) and to have switched to a green energy supplier (19% versus 8%).
Dig deeper into 2022 consumer trends
Download the 2022 UK Consumer trends report and the 2022 US Consumer trends report for all the latest insight into:
- Consumer sentiment
- Marketing trends
- Shopping & spending trends
- Lifestyle trends
- Marketing consumption trends