Ahead of the webinar he is delivering on the subject on 13 May, Pete Cape, global knowledge director at Dynata, looks at consumer attitudes towards the COVID-19 pandemic, how it is affecting people’s behaviour, and what this means for marketers.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a drastic effect on the world around us. In addition to the public health crisis we’re facing, economies have slowed dramatically and consumer behaviour has changed substantially, leaving many marketers pondering which move to make next. During this time of uncertainty, it’s paramount for marketers to keep their finger on the pulse by understanding the macro and micro trends changing the consumer landscape. Leveraging Dynata’s first-party opted-in panel we can bring you closer to the consumer to highlight the top changes in consumer behaviour during this unprecedent time.
The economic outlook and financial security
Despite the rise in unemployment due to COVID-19, globally we’re seeing that almost twice as many people show concern for the world and domestic economies than they do about their household finances. Across the 13 countries surveyed, 62 per cent expressed concern or extreme concern for their domestic economy, with the highest level of worry in India.
Purchasing habits and lifestyle changes
By researching people's changing lifestyles and purchase patterns, we can shine some light on the extent of the impact on the business sectors. We see a big decrease from five weeks ago in people going out to bars and restaurants, with 90 per cent of Brits now doing so less frequently.
With the closure of restaurants, many businesses have quickly adapted and changed their relationship with their customers, with many restaurants now offering home delivery. Across all countries surveyed, 33 per cent of people now say they are getting food delivered more often, with the UK being one of the largest adopters of home delivery, in comparison to other European countries.
Changes in what and where consumers purchase is also changing, with 70 per cent of Brits going to physical stores less often. Another indicator that people may just be buying less is that we see little increase in online shopping, with only 46 per cent shopping online more than they did before.
Medical knowledge and healthcare outlook
Consumers are generally feeling well informed on the pandemic, and, in countries that are approaching their peak, consumers are beginning to feel less concerned about their healthcare systems being unable to cope, particularly in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain. However, in Japan, we’re seeing the opposite, with a large increase in concern for personal health and the elderly community as they come closer to the peak.
Three-quarters of respondents answered that they are well informed about the virus as it relates to their own health, saying they know everything they need to know about how to protect themselves; have a good understanding of what the illness would be like if they caught it; and know exactly what to do if they have symptoms. When it comes to lifestyle changes designed to stop the spread, 83 per cent of people are staying at home more than they used to.
Trusted sources of information
The most common source of information about the crisis is government officials, with 81 per cent in the UK reporting that they are getting their information on COVID-19 from this source. Trust in COVID-19 related content from brands is low, with only 37 per cent trusting the information provided by brands, posing a challenge for marketers. Healthcare professionals are the standout source, with 78 per cent of consumers trusting their information, compared to 49 per cent trusting government officials and employers, and 43 per cent, local leaders and politicians, and friends and family.
Our research has indicated that there has been a significant change in the way consumers interact with each other in society. People are increasingly keeping a distance from others, and 52 per cent are avoiding visits to elderly people. Three-quarters of people now think we must consider the common good first, putting our own needs second.
When will it end?
There has been a modest but consistent change in people’s estimation of when the crisis will end, with people now thinking it will take longer than they had previously thought. Hopes for a fast resolution to the crisis, believing it will be over in one month or less, have gone down across the board, and stand in the low single digits. The most popular opinion across the 13 countries surveyed is that it will be over in six months, with about a quarter expecting that timeframe.
As a marketer, it's important to understand the external factors affecting consumers during this time of uncertainty. Whilst this is a difficult time for businesses, by being closer to the voice of the consumer through research, and by understanding the macro and micro trends impacting society, marketers can readily adapt and innovate to effectively reach their consumers and continue to provide them value.
The research was conducted over five weeks from week of March 16 to week of April 13, in 13 countries: USA, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Italy, Spain, Australia, India, Japan, Singapore and China; approximately 1,000 interviews per market per wave. Participants were selected from across all Dynata's proprietary online research panel assets, and the samples quota controlled to reflect the population on Age, Gender and Region. Interviews were conducted online. The youngest age quota is 18-24.