If your brand caters to customers across both the United States and the United Kingdom, it’s important to understand their unique preferences so that you can set up a compelling customer experience that resonates both at home and across the pond.

That goes beyond converting currency from dollars into pounds, or adding a “u” to words like “favorite.” Consumer spending and behavior in each country ties back to regional customs and values, and it’s important to address those in your marketing and sales strategy.

We’ve dug into a wealth of data to get a better handle on what American and UK consumers both value in a brand experience — both during the pre-purchase and the post-purchase stages. While the two countries’ average shopper profile shares many commonalities, we also found areas where they diverge significantly.

In this article, we’ll share:

  • Shopping behaviors and preferences across the US and UK markets
  • Post-purchase behaviors and preferences across the US and UK
  • How US and UK consumers navigate return abuse and fraud
  • Marketing to a global economy

Shopping behaviors and preferences across the US and UK markets

First and foremost, it’s important to note that the US is a much larger market than Great Britain. US consumer spending was at 15,569.85 USD Billion in Q4 of 2023, versus 350,800 GPM Million (441,948 USD Million) in the UK. American consumers also tend to have more disposable income: The 2022 GDP per capita in the UK was around $46,125 USD, versus $76.329 in the US.

That means American consumers in general have more buying power — and there are a lot more of them to go around.

Beyond that, we also found some key differences between these groups of shoppers:

  • Americans have more brand loyalty
    A recent study found that just 8% of UK customers say that they are loyal to their favorite brands, compared to 23% of American shoppers. Brits are far more likely to switch brands in search of a good deal.
  • Americans are more optimistic about the future
    2023 consumer trend reports from Attest found that American shoppers were more positive overall about their economic futures, with 71% feeling positive compared to 62.5% of Brits. The more positive they feel, the more likely they are to spend money on consumer goods.
  • UK spenders are more cautious
    The Attest reports found that UK consumers are more cautious when it comes to spending money (36% versus 20% in the US). In both countries, however, the youngest customers were the least concerned with spending — 39% said they were not at all concerned in the US, compared to 44% in the UK.
  • UK customers prioritize sustainability
    Attest found that British consumers were slightly more likely than Americans to say that they’d pay extra for sustainably-made products (58.6% v. 55.7%). British customers also said they were more conscious of plastic waste, with 47.6% saying that they were making an effort to use less; v. 31.4% of US consumers.
  • British customers shop online more often
    Nearly 51% shop “mostly or always” online, compared to 38.9% of customers in the US, according to Attest data.
  • American shoppers engage with brands on social media more often
    In the US, 42.9% of customers say that they’ve engaged with brands on TikTok v 33.1% in the United Kingdom, according to the Attest study. For YouTube, 60.3% of Americans had engaged with branded content, v. 45.5% of British consumers.

Post-purchase behaviors and preferences across the US and UK

Next, let’s look at attitudes towards the post-purchase process — specifically as it pertains to product returns and return policies.

Loop’s own 2023 Consumer Loyalty Report ranked the key consumer returns preferences that each type of customer had when it came to product return policies and how reverse logistics are handled. For many factors, the two countries had very different attitudes:

  • Both prioritize free returns and exchanges
    Across the board, 80.5% of US consumers and 78.6% of British shoppers said that this was a high priority.
  • Brits are more concerned with a simple returns process
    While 65.1% of UK shoppers said this was a priority, 61.8% of American customers said the same.
  • Americans value extensive exchange options
    In the US, 43.2% of customers said that a large variety of exchange options was important, while just 27.9% of UK shoppers agreed.
  • US customers want access to in-person returns options
    Americans were more likely than Brits to place high value on in-person returns options, with 32.4% of US shoppers claiming it as a priority compared to 20.7% of British customers.

How US and UK consumers navigate return abuse and fraud

Loop recently launched another study, measuring the incidence and reasons behind returns fraud and abuse.

In this case, both US and UK shoppers were highly likely to have either participated in returns fraud or abuse, or personally known someone who had — 38% of UK shoppers and 39% of US shoppers. However, US customers were more likely to engage in these behaviors on a regular basis, with 20% to 30% of Americans saying that they had purchased and used items knowing they would be returned on a weekly basis, compared to 15% of British customers.

In both countries, customers would be more likely to curb such practices at retailers that have comprehensive return policies with penalties for returns abuse, such as a restocking fee or a permanent ban from the store.

Marketing to a global economy

If your brand sells products via retail or ecommerce to customers in both Great Britain and the United States, it’s important to take their cultural and behavioral differences into perspective when building your marketing strategy.

Make sure that you’re offering products in line with each customer type’s needs, budgets, and values, and that you’re using the right channels to market them based on where your customers are most likely to see them. If you’re selling via ecommerce, you should set up localized shopfronts with customized product catalogs, messaging, currency conversion, and payment options, based on where the customer is based so each shopper has a smooth customer experience from start to finish. Ensure that you have a streamlined set up for international shipping, with real-time tracking and predictable delivery timeframes. 

It’s also important to put a strong post-purchase process in place. Using a post-purchase solution like Loop can help you streamline the returns process for your shoppers, curb returns abuse, and help your business retain revenue through exchanges that would otherwise be lost to refunds.

By ensuring a personalized experience for your Anglo and American customers from first touch to last, you’ll be able to bridge the gap between the two cultures and ensure a great customer experience for all of your shoppers. 

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