Starting the year positively, global consumer confidence saw an increase of one point from fourth-quarter 2014, with an index score of 97. After a slight dip at the end of last year, when all regional confidence scores declined, it was a more upbeat start to the year, as confidence increased slightly or remained stable in every region except Latin America.
Regionally, consumer confidence increased one point in Asia-Pacific, posting the highest quarterly index score of 107 while North America held steady at 106. Confidence in the Middle East/Africa (96) and Europe (77) edged up one point each in the first quarter but decreased two points in Latin America (86)—the region’s lowest score since 2011.
"While confidence across global regions remained relatively stable in the first quarter, there is considerable variation across different markets,” said Louise Keely, senior vice president, Nielsen, and president, The Demand Institute. “In the first quarter of this year, the key emerging markets of Brazil and Russia saw large declines in confidence for the second consecutive quarter, with the drop in oil prices and the political instability in Brazil. China dropped another index point at the start of this year, which comes after a four-point decline in the previous quarter, reflecting the recent slowdown in GDP there.”
Among the world’s largest economies, consumer confidence increased most in Japan, rising nine points to 82 in the first quarter, which was the country’s highest score since 2005 when Nielsen began its consumer confidence index measurement. Germany also reached an optimism milestone: Sentiment increased two points to reach the baseline score of 100. Confidence also increased one point in the U.S. (107), three points in the U.K. (97) and three points in France (60). Conversely, confidence in China decreased one point to 106 from fourth-quarter 2014.
Consumer sentiment in Belgium climbed three points compared to the fourth quarter (79 points), and was five index points higher this quarter when looking at levels just a year ago (74 points in Q1 2014).
“In Europe, there are signs of improved consumer confidence in many countries, which reflects signs of growth in these markets,” continued Keely. “Lower oil prices have helped European consumers who are not in oil-producing countries, and labor markets are improving. On the other hand, the falling Euro against the dollar is good for export industries but not for consumers, who will pay more for imports.”
In the latest online survey, conducted Feb. 23 - March 13, 2015, consumer confidence increased in 37 of 60 markets measured by Nielsen (61%), compared with only 17 of 60 markets (28%) in the previous quarter. India’s score of 130, the highest score among 60 markets, was one point higher than in fourth-quarter 2014, followed by Indonesia (123), the Philippines (115) and the United Arab Emirates (115). Italy (57) showed the biggest quarterly improvement, as confidence rose 12 points from fourth-quarter 2014. The Ukraine reported the lowest score of 41, a quarterly decline of 11 points—the biggest drop in the survey.
Other findings include:
The Nielsen Global Survey of Consumer Confidence and Spending Intentions was conducted Feb. 23 - March 13, 2015 and polled more than 30,000 online consumers in 60 countries throughout Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East/Africa and North America. The sample has quotas based on age and sex for each country based on its Internet users and is weighted to be representative of Internet consumers. It has a margin of error of ±0.6%. This Nielsen survey is based only on the behavior of respondents with online access. Internet penetration rates vary by country. Nielsen uses a minimum reporting standard of 60% Internet penetration or an online population of 10 million for survey inclusion. The China Consumer Confidence Index is compiled from a separate mixed methodology survey among 3,500 respondents in China. The sub-Saharan African countries in this study are compiled from a separate mobile methodology survey among 1,600 respondents in Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria. The Nielsen Global Survey, which includes the Global Consumer Confidence Index, was established in 2005.
For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Q1 2015 Global Consumer Confidence Report.