COVID-19 has redefined consumption
People are living differently, buying differently and, in many ways, thinking differently. The habits formed now will endure beyond this crisis, permanently changing what we value; how and where we shop; and how we live and work.
We have conducted four waves of consumer research that reveal the impact of COVID-19 on consumer goods has been profound. The pandemic accelerated long-term trends, forcing companies to rapidly adapt as demand for certain products and services outstrips supply. As companies move forward, they must consider how to better understand consumers.
Consumers are adapting
Consumers are adapting to new personal circumstances by spending their time and money differently, wondering what the future holds.
In markets where COVID-19 cases have stabilized, health fears have subsided and are lower (69%) than in markets where the virus is still advancing (80%), yet overall economic concerns persist (85% versus 86%). The proportion of consumers worried about the impact on their personal job security is the highest it’s been across the four waves of research conducted (65%).
People are uncomfortable about visiting public places in the next 1-2 months. Consumers show the highest level of comfort in going to a friend or relative’s house (41%) but worry about crowded locations, including public transportation.
Consumers are uncomfortable about visiting public places
Buying patterns have dramatically shifted
Why, what and how consumers buy is changing in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. Omnichannel options have seen a boost as new consumers migrate online to shop – a rise that is likely to be sustained post-outbreak. Consumers have also increased use of omnichannel services such as home delivery, chat features and virtual consultations, and are highly likely to continue using these in the future.
Consumers are–and expect to continue–using:
Living in the new is centered around the home
The COVID-19 outbreak has slowed the pace and changed daily life for many consumers, and this is having a significant impact on the ways we spend our time and engage with one another. Consumers are finding new ways to fill the extra time many now have at home. Families are welcoming the opportunity to spend more time together, feeling closer to each other as a result. These changes present a great opportunity for brands to tap into new consumer creativity by co-creating with consumers and to become part of renewed in-home occasions to support the consumer experience.
Proportion of consumers who feel more connected to family
Trust in organizations is waning
Consumers’ overall feelings remain positive about how different types of organizations have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, but there is still opportunity to improve consumer perceptions by taking the right actions to meet new consumer needs. There has been a decrease (-8%) from March to May in the proportion of consumers who feel organizations such as health institutions, education institutions, retailers, the government and product companies are dealing well with the pandemic situation.
Perceptions about employers are polarized. At one end of the spectrum, more than half (55%) of employees think their employers responded well. On average, 63% of employees feel that their employers have taken active steps to protect their health, 63% trust their employer to do the right thing during the crisis and 62% feel their employers have provided the necessary tools to work.
These employers are at risk of reputational damage and losing valuable employees in the future by not meeting new expectations people have for businesses to act responsibly.
Employees’ rating of employers’ response to COVID-19
Take this opportunity to emerge stronger
The world is longing for a return to normalcy, but the reality is, the world as we know it has changed. People’s attitudes, preferences and behaviors are adjusting. Businesses have adapted to these changes and endured struggles along the way.
In this time of dramatic change, people, businesses and institutions have an opportunity to reset and renew. It’s time to seize this opportunity to reinvent your business to outmaneuver uncertainty.