Switzerland flag Switzerland: Buying and Selling

Advertising and marketing in Switzerland

Marketing opportunities

Consumer Profile
In 2020, Switzerland's population slightly exceeded 8.4 million. Switzerland faces an ageing population, albeit with consistent annual growth projected in 2035, due mostly to immigration and a fertility rate close to replacement level. The median age is 42.7 years. People aged 0 to 14 years represent 15.3% of the population, the group of people aged 15 to 24 years represents 10.4%, the group of people aged 25 to 54 years represents 42%, the group of people aged 55-64 years represents 13.5% of the population and the group over 65 years represents 18.3% of the population (CIA World Factbook, 2020). There are 0.98 males per female.
In terms of ethnic composition, Swiss represent 69.5% of the population, followed by German (4.2%), Italian (3.2%), Portuguese (2.6%), French (2%), Kosovo (1.1%), and others (17.3%). Around 74 live in urban areas. Switzerland has a dense network of towns, where large, medium and small towns are complementary. The plateau is very densely populated with about 450 people per km2 and the landscape continually shows signs of human presence. The weight of the largest metropolitan areas, which are Zürich, Geneva–Lausanne, Basel and Bern tend to increase. In international comparison the importance of these urban areas is stronger than their number of inhabitants suggests. In addition, the two main centres of Zürich and Geneva are recognised for their particularly great quality of life.
At the end of 2019, there were about 3.8 million private households in Switzerland. Over a third were single-person households and 16% of the permanent resident population were living in a single-person household. Almost one third were two-person households, which represents 30% of the permanent resident population. The average household size was 2.21 persons (Federal Statistical Office).

The education system in Switzerland is largely decentralised. There are 26 cantons, which are overseen by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI). According to PISA survey, Switzerland schools are above the OECD average as for performances. According to an OECD report on education, the level of upper secondary attainment among 25-64 year-olds is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data (87.8 %, rank 10/45, 2017). The level of upper secondary attainment among 25-34 year-olds is one of the highest among OECD and partner countries with available data. In contrast to general trends across OECD countries, women do not make up the majority of new entrants into bachelor’s and master’s programs in Switzerland.
Finally, 3% of the labour force work in agriculture, 20% in industry and 77% in services (2020, World Bank).
Purchasing Power

With a GDP per capita PPP of almost USD 70,989 in 2019 (World Bank), Swiss consumers enjoy a particularly high buying power. The average monthly gross wage in 2019 was CHF 6,538. According to the latest figures from OECD, the average household net-adjusted disposable income per capita is USD 37,466 a year, higher than the OECD average of USD 33,604 a year. There is a considerable gap between the richest and poorest – the top 20% of the population earn nearly five times as much as the bottom 20%. Switzerland's GINI index was at the level of 32.7 in 2017 (World Bank, latest data available).

The consumption expenditure of private households stood at CHF 357.636 billion in 2018 (Federal Statistical Office, latest data), divided as follows: housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels 25.2%; health 16.3%; transport, communication 11.9%; miscellaneous goods and services 11.6%; food and non-alcoholic beverages 8.9%; restaurants and hotels 8.2%; recreation and culture, education 8.0%; alcoholic beverages, tobacco and narcotics 3.6%; furnishings, household equipment and routine household maintenance 3.6%; clothing and footwear 2.7%.

There is a gender gap between women and men’s earnings for all levels of educational attainment for which data are available. In 2019, women earned CHF 72,800 on average for a 90-100% job while men earned CHF 86,000 (the Federal Statistical Office). For part-time workers, women earned on average CHF 38,500, while the figure stood at CHF 48,100 for men.

Consumer Behaviour
The majority of Swiss consumers give great importance to the origin of products (especially fresh products), and at an equal price, a local product will be given preference over one that does not state its origin. To decide on a purchase, Swiss consumers are more likely than their European counterparts to look out for value for money rather than the design or the brand's reputation. Furthermore, after-sales service is very important to these consumers.

Despite the increasing popularity of e-commerce, many Swiss prefer buying only from physical shops, which gives them the opportunity to assess the product and speak to a knowledgeable salesperson. About half of the Swiss population makes at least one online purchase a month.

Digital technology has greatly altered consumer behaviour in Swiss retail in the last few years. Product sales are increasingly shifting to the internet, generating high growth rates. At the same time, the boundaries between offline and online are blurring, as the use of digital devices and online channels is now also affecting bricks-and-mortar purchases (offline sales). Many customers are using (mobile) digital devices to check product information such as prices, reviews and stock availability before or during a shopping trip. According to a Deloitte study on digital retailing in Switzerland, 83% of Swiss consumers use a digital device for shopping-related activities before, during or after their physical shopping trip. This shows that digital influences the entire online and offline shopping journey. According to the same research, digital payment systems are on the rise. In future, 46% of Swiss consumers would like to use a mobile wallet to make a payment in-store while 65% would like to use self-checkout systems.

A representative survey conducted by market research company GfK on behalf of the WWF found that nine out of ten Swiss are re-evaluating their consumption behaviour in order to consume less, albeit for different kinds of reasons. The survey found that for 44% of respondents, saving money was the primary reason for wanting to buy less. On a national level, only 20% of people considered consuming less to protect the environment, according to the survey. The desire to save money was cited particularly often in French-speaking Switzerland, where 19 out of 20 people said that they wanted to consume less. By contrast, people in Italian-speaking Switzerland cited environmental concerns as a reason to rethink their consumption more often than those in all other areas of the country. For the German-speaking Swiss, the desire to have more time rather than material goods was mentioned more often than in other regions.

The Swiss are the biggest spenders on organic products in the world, and Swiss demand is one of the largest in Europe. The Swiss spent CHF 3.24 billion on organic food in 2019, so the organic food sales achieved a 10.3% share of the total food market, according to data from Bio Suisse. The largest organic sales segments were eggs, fresh bread, vegetables and fruit; whereas meat, frozen goods, drinks and snacks were well under 10%.
Despite protests and lawsuits, collaborative platforms such as Uber and AirBnb is commonly used among Swiss students and women. According to a survey, around 60% of ride-sharing services users are under 35, and 20% are students. Women now represent 47% of users, up from 39% in 2015.
Consumers Associations
FCAB , Federal Consumer Affairs Bureau
 FRC , Fédération Romande des Consommateurs
Main Advertising Agencies
Advico Young & Rubicam
McCann-Erickson Switzerland
Havas Worldwide: Switzerland

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Latest Update: June 2022

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