Consumers’ Priorities, Attitudes Shift During Pandemic

The pandemic has disrupted the day-to-day lives of more than half (52 percent) of the global population. A recent survey conducted by Kantar of 30,000 consumers across more than 50 markets found that financial worries are intensifying around the world, with 82 percent of respondents in the U.S. and 79 percent in the UK reporting concerns.

The survey, Kantar’s COVID-19 Barometer, found that financial concerns outweigh personal health concerns—68 percent of people say the situation demands more proactive financial planning and 60 percent are worried about the economy’s ability to recover. Only 50 percent of people are concerned about contracting the virus. The financial focus is driven by the very real impact COVID-19 is having on household incomes, with Millennials feeling the most severe impact. The survey reports that 78 percent of 18-34-year-olds say their household income has or will be impacted by coronavirus compared to 71 percent overall.

Across the markets Kantar surveyed, being prepared and keeping well informed is the primary response, seen as paramount by more than a third of respondents globally. National media channels, such as nationwide TV channels and newspapers, are still seen as the most trusted source of information, with 54 percent of people identifying them as trustworthy. Audience measurement data collected by Kantar has recorded significant viewer increases in news outlets around the world—in China the time spent watching news programs has more than doubled; in the UK, 17 out of the 20 most-watched shows in 2020 have been BBC News, and in Brazil the share of time spent watching the news increased by a third in the month of March. The data also suggests that as the severity of the pandemic increases, people are increasingly looking to their government for information and support—54 percent report trusting their government websites.

The barometer found that young adults are more likely to be feeling the financial impact of the coronavirus and are experiencing the greatest change to their day-to-day lives. Many are making more healthier lifestyle choices, as people look to take control of what they can—59 percent of 18-34-year-olds say they are eating healthier, 57 percent are using this an opportunity to sleep more, 48 percent are exercising more regularly, 44 percent are focusing on personal development and 25 percent are choosing to meditate. Older age groups (55+) are trying to get as much sunlight as possible in the context of greater restrictions to their freedom of movement.

Data from the COVID-19 Barometer highlights that people expect businesses to prioritize staff welfare and to play their part in supporting society through the pandemic, such as through donating useful items and helping the government. The survey found that 47 percent of people expect companies to support hospitals during the crisis, while 39 percent say that companies should be making themselves available to governments. Like companies, brands are also in the public eye—and are expected to be practical, realistic and helpful. Thirty-one percent of people want brands to help them during their everyday lives, suggesting that how brands act now will be remembered after the pandemic. Only eight percent of consumers believe that companies should stop advertising, with many claiming that it is a welcome distraction, reminding most of more normal times.

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