2018 has seen a lot of talk about sustainability and mindful consumption. There are several good reasons why sustainability has become such a buzzword. Many news-stories regarding climate change and the impact humans are having on its acceleration have started to really catch people’s attention. One of the toughest headlines to spread across social media and media outlets in general, told us that the world’s scientists have sounded a final alarm and that we have about 12 years left to radically change the impact of human life on the planet. That was the clear message from a monumental study from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) .
In Sweden, these distressful news had the most impact on the younger generations who have been engaged in protests and in amplifying the debate on responsible consumption. Last year saw the rise to global fame of Greta Thunberg, a very young Swedish climate activist (16 years of age), but nonetheless, extremely dedicated to her cause. She has become an icon who is giving voice to a generation which future on this planet is in jeopardy due to a lack of the necessary political will to act on climate change. Her strong and reasonable words have hit the hearts of many Swedes, stirred the passionate resolve of many other young students across Europe and have even reached the halls of the United Nations Climate Change Conference and the European Economic and Social Committee. Greta’s key message has been that if humankind is to make its presence on this planet sustainable, people need to re-think their lifestyles and need to slash their carbon footprint.
One of the industries that has been most accused for its contribution to global carbon emissions is aviation. The debate on how to curb people’s emissions has often focused on cutting down people’s flying. The idea of hopping on a plane and escaping to a warmer locale is incredibly appealing to most people in Sweden, particularly at this time of the year when temperatures are at their lowest and the long winter darkness has exacerbated the desire for some sun. But new studies have revealed the considerable environmental impact of Swedes' flying habits, and the figures may have made them rethink their winter escape to Thailand. The reports have shown that Swedes' travel habits have an impact that is much larger than the global average per country's size. The news that Sweden's aviation emissions are five times higher than the global average and that a full 80 percent of those emissions are the result of private trips, has made a lot of people consider doing their part to cut emissions .
At Wrapp we have been interested in seeing if the ongoing heightened debate on climate change has actually shaped new trends in consumers’ spending behavior. In particular, we wanted to find out if Swedish consumers have indeed cut-down their consumption in flight tickets which are known to have a very high carbon footprint. To do this, Wrapp has collected the relevant transaction-data harnessed through its app which is provided by Wrapp’s many users who connect their payment cards to the app in order to receive offers and rewards in the form of cashbacks. Wrapp can then utilize the transaction data to deliver highly detailed and valuable information on market intelligence. The provided analysis is greatly desired by many retailers that can finally improve their chances of correctly targeting their customers and understand the market they operate in. In our previous blog post we talked in more detail on how Wrapp’s technology works with regards to the creation of business intelligence through transaction-data analytics. Wrapp’s analytics is a valuable tool not only for identifying consumer-target-groups, gathering intelligence on competitors’ market shares or effectively planning marketing and sales strategies with the help of real-time data, but also to identify current spending trends for entire market segments which can become a useful resource for making predictions on consumer preferences.
We have been looking at the data related to the purchasing of holiday related expenses, namely, flight tickets, hotels, travel agencies & tour operators. Thanks to Wrapp’s sophisticated transaction-data analytics tool, we could identify trends per gender and age group in the Swedish population. The data showed us that there is indeed a sharp downwards trend of number of transactions as well as total amount spent on flights and on general holiday related expenses.
We can see a downwards trend not only in the amount spent in flights but also for all the other holiday-related segments we looked at. The data shows us that the age group that spends the most on traveling is the one between 40 and 50 years of age and the one that spends the least between 60 and 70. But all age groups have sharply decreased their spending. We can see that not only the number of transactions has decreased but also the average amounts spent have shrunk. One of the segments affected the most is hotels which saw a decline of 34% of average amount spent.
We cannot draw final conclusions on whether these holiday-related segments have suffered a decline due to a heightened awareness of the effects of flight travel on climate change. However, we can assume that the debate might have increased the wish for becoming more carbon neutral and may have affected the consumers' choices. We would like to hope that people have started to feel an increased sense of responsibility and intend to accept some changes in their consumption habits in order to decrease a little of, what is now called, climate anxiety. However, many other explanations could justify the decrease in spending of Swedes on flights and holiday making. A weak Swedish Krona (SEK) and raised interest rates might have had a strong impact on people’s decisions who might have preferred to save money instead. It might also be that Swedes are counting on a very hot and sunny Swedish summer as it was in 2018 which saw record breaking heat-waves. Even though last summer’s incredible souring temperatures have been attributed to a warming climate, this very reason might be convincing people to enjoy a summer in their home country instead of traveling outside national borders for summer enjoyment. An ironic twist but still an interesting and welcomed development.
We believe that it is most likely a combination of these reasons that have affected people’s spending behavior. Climate anxiety hit Swedes hard last year, but a slowing economy and a weakening currency has undoubtedly made the Swedish population more careful with its spending.
Through Wrapp’s data analytics we have been able to demonstrate whether Swedes have been spending less on flight travel. With Wrapp’s tools we can, therefore, follow market trends in real-time by tracking changes in consumer behavior. Transaction-data tells us a great deal about what people are buying and consuming in general. Our technology is used mainly to follow the performance of particular brands and gain business insights on specific market segments, but our advanced analytics can also be used to view general trends of entire industries.
Wrapp is working towards achieving transaction-data from all of the big banks in Sweden in order to increase its sample sizes and increase its credibility as a source of market intelligence. We believe that the information that transaction-data provides is not only extremely useful for single businesses that need to improve their marketing, but also for many more actors that can benefit from updated knowledge on spending-trends. We envision that one-day Wrapp’s indexes will be providing the most accurate info on the performance of entire markets. A lot more work is necessary for achieving this dream, but the ideas and the technology are here and are being fine-tuned every day. Due to the recent acquisition by Meniga, a successful global Fintech with powerful data-enrichment capabilities, and the increased interest that banks are having to collaborate with us, our dream does not feel that far away.
In the coming weeks, we will be providing more interesting facts on current trends and insights taken through our powerful data-analytics tool. Keep following us to keep learning about Wrapp’s capabilities and its development.
 "We have 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe, warns UN". The Guardian. 8 October 2018. Retrieved: 2019-02-28.
 “Measuring greenhouse gas emissions from international air travel of a country's residents methodological development and application for Sweden”. Larsson, J., Kamb, A., Nässén, J. et al. 2018. Retrieved: 2019-02-28.