By Daniel Hunter

Cost conscious Britons are becoming increasingly paranoid about missing out on good deals, spending hours researching online, scouring the high street and interrogating friends, before finally taking the plunge and making a purchase, a new report commissioned by EDF Energy has found.

Squeezed household budgets during the economic downturn have turned the country into a nation of reluctant deal hunters, determined to secure a good price but faced with an almost never-ending choice of what, where, and when to buy goods and services.

Technology fuels the obsession as shoppers can browse thousands of options in store or online available on their smart phones, voucher codes, cash-back deals, check comparison sites, and customer reviews, according to the study.

But as a result, consumers are suffering from ‘analysis paralysis’; overwhelmed by choice and fearful of missing out on a good deal.
The online EDF Energy /You Gov poll found:

- Over three quarters (77%) admit to feeling pressure to shop around for a good deal - but only a third (37%) say they enjoy it;

- Britons are terrified of regret, with nearly half (48%) shopping around because they fear missing a good deal

- Just under half of shoppers (49%) admit to spending more than two hours researching a £200+ purchase, with three million Britons dedicating more than 24 hours of time researching each major purchasing decision (+£200);

- With more consumers feeling the strain of the constant quest for the perfect purchase, over half (51%) are now rating simplicity and flexibility as key features when selecting products or services;

- 95% of those who own a smart phone having used it to research a product;

- However, when it comes to trusted sources, over a third (35%) trust themselves as being the best source of information, followed by comparison sites (33%) and partners (12%).

The Analysis Paralysis: the Rise of the Navigator Brands report, which was commissioned by EDF Energy in partnership with consumer trends agency Canvas8, found shoppers are now turning to simple, flexible goods and services, which take the hassle out of shopping around and do the hard work for them.

Holidaymakers for example are increasingly returning to traditional package deals rather than booking each part of their trip separately — but remain in control, as travel agents offer options on flight times, hotels, catering and display independent customer reviews on their websites.

And in the energy sector — which has been criticised for the number and complexity of tariffs on offer - EDF Energy Blue +Price Promise tariff monitors the market for customers, informing them if another supplier is more than £1 a week cheaper (that’s £52 a year) at typical use.The tariff - which fixes energy prices at a highly competitive price - also allows customers to leave for free at any point. Over 1.2m energy accounts have switched to Blue+ Price Promise since it was launched last April.

"As our research shows, we now have access to more options and knowledge than ever before, meaning each decision, from our morning cup of coffee to our summer holiday can feel like a minefield, exacerbated by the nagging sense that somewhere out there is the ‘perfect solution’," Martin Stead, Marketing Director, EDF Energy commented.

"Nowhere is this more applicable than the energy sector. Customers are now faced with a multitude of products and numerous commentators providing advice, instruction and opinion."

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