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Majority of US Consumers Want Access to Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) for Necessary Purchases

Posted on Thursday, May 26, 2022

A Harris Poll survey commissioned by Sunbit found that consumers overwhelmingly report positive sentiments following BNPL use, with those who have an annual household income of $100K+ more likely to say they are very likely to finance necessary services in the next 6 months

Consumers overwhelmingly report positive sentiments following BNPL use, with those who have an annual household income of $100K+ more likely to say they are very likely to finance necessary services in the next 6 months.

Key Findings:

● 69% of US consumers report an interest in BNPL for necessary services.

● Current inflation is creating feelings of diminished buying power for about 8 out of 10 US consumers (81%).

● Nearly 4 in 5 US consumers (79%) plan to cut back on “wants” to better save funds for necessities in the coming months in anticipation of prices of goods/services continuing to rise.

● More than two-thirds of US consumers (67%) have delayed necessary services or purchases due to inflation. Top items being delayed include home repairs (27%), dental work (27%), car purchases (26%), and car repairs (20%).

● Those with an annual household income of $100,000+ are more likely than those with an annual household income of less than $75K to say they are very likely to finance necessary services in the next 6 months (18% vs. 11%).

● Younger generations are more likely to report delays in necessary services/purchases than older generations (82% of Gen Z ages 18–25 and 80% of Millennials ages 25–41 vs. 69% of Gen X ages 42–57 and 51% of Boomers ages 58–76).

As inflation continues its squeeze on American consumers, a recent study, commissioned by Sunbit and conducted online by the Harris Poll with more than 2,000 US adults, shows that the majority of consumers would like BNPL to go beyond its current focus on e-commerce businesses and extend to everyday needs.

BNPL for Necessities Is a Must-Have

Today, most consumers can’t cover an unexpected $400 expense, and having access to the right financing tools is essential to meeting the needs of consumers. 69% of US consumers report an interest in BNPL to pay for necessary services such as car repairs, eyewear or dental care. Those who are feeling stressed by the current economic situation are more likely than those who are not stressed by it to say they want access to a BNPL option for these services (74% vs. 53%).

But financing options aren’t only for consumers in a pinch. According to the survey’s findings, those with an annual household income of $100,000+ are more likely than those with an annual household income of less than $75k to say they are very likely to finance a necessary service in the next 6 months (18% vs. 11%).

In keeping with other findings in the survey, Boomers are the least likely to be interested in BNPL for necessary services (52% vs. 72% of Gen Z, 84% of Millennials, and 72% of Gen X), while Millennials are most likely to express interest in BNPL for necessary services.

Everyday Needs Are Being Put Off

Current inflation is negatively impacting about 8 out of 10 US consumers, and 81% cite feelings of diminished buying power as a result. A similar proportion of US consumers (79%) plan to cut back on “wants” to better save funds for necessities over the coming months in anticipation of prices of goods/services continuing to rise.

More than two-thirds of US consumers (67%) have delayed necessary services and purchases due to inflation.

The top items being delayed include home repairs (27%), dental work (27%), car purchases (26%), and car repairs (20%), pointing toward a need for solutions to help consumers address these necessities.

Consumers appear to expect the economic outlook to remain challenging, with half of US consumers (50%) planning to finance a necessary service over the next 6 months.

Consumers Reveal Their Feelings about BNPL

While it is less surprising that 92% of US consumers have at least heard of BNPL, and nearly three-quarters (73%) are at least somewhat familiar with it, the study was able to get an inside look at the emotional impact BNPL usage has had on consumers.

Sunbit learned that those who have used a BNPL service in the past have very positive feelings about the experience, whether they used BNPL for discretionary or nondiscretionary purchases. Many of those who have used BNPL for necessities report feelings of happiness (47%), relief (63%), and excitement (39%), while only 10% report feelings of regret or stress. Similarly, many of those who have used BNPL for non-necessities report feelings of happiness (53%), relief (43%), and excitement (32%), while only about 1 in 10 report feelings of regret (11%), stress (12%), or guilt (9%).

Moreover, most US consumers who have used BNPL (76%) have used it more than once and on average have completed five transactions with it.

BNPL Is Likely to Evolve

The study outcomes point to a broad range of consumers' use of BNPL as part of financial management, spanning the gamut from those under economic pressure to those who choose to use it as a budgeting tool or just another option in their financial toolkit. Consumers have been drawn to BNPL as a faster, cheaper alternative to credit cards. As with any category, as BNPL matures, customers may evolve in the way they use it. The Sunbit study suggests that consumers may be gravitating toward using BNPL as a means of reducing stress for everyday purchases and at the point of sale – and to avoid endless cycles of debt. Whatever the nuances, the current data points to the idea that BNPL is here to stay.

Survey Method

This survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of Sunbit from April 5-7, 2022 among 2,063 U.S. adults ages 18 and older, among whom 441 have used BNPL services. The sampling precision of Harris online polls is measured by using a Bayesian credible interval. For this study, the sample data is accurate to within + 2.8 percentage points using a 95% confidence level. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables and subgroup sample sizes, please contact media@sunbit.com.

 







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