COVID-19 shows no signs of slowing down, and as the scientists are battling with time to develop a vaccine, the world has no choice but to adapt to the new, uncertain reality and hope for the best.
As consumers, we feel and act differently, so businesses have to follow our lead. The focus of many companies has shifted from the profit-driven mindset to value-driven. The main question every business should ask today is: “How can our service or product cater to the changing customer needs?”.
For many marketers, advertising and selling in times like these is utterly uncharted territory. However, by listening to the customer, any marketing team will be able to define its position (even in uncertain times like these).
At boobook, we are committed to bringing consumers’ need, perspective and experience at the centre of our clients’ businesses. Two months after the crisis hit, we launched a global study with a clear objective to gather as much data as possible to reveal critical insights on changes in consumers behaviour due to COVID-19.
The study ran from the end of May until mid-June. Our target group was a nationally representative sample of 4,500 consumers across nine countries (USA, Brazil, France, UK, Germany, Spain, Belgium, China, South Africa) in various stages of the pandemic. The study led to seven key takeaways.
Our first conclusion reveals the connection (or the lack of) between the financial situation and the level of optimism. The prediction of how bright the future will be didn’t correlate with the current economic situation. When asked to predict how life will look like after COVID-19, people in countries with the least income stability turned out to be the most optimistic. On the contrary, European countries, with functional social structures and higher living standard, are mostly pessimistic when it comes to finances.
Based on distinct consumer ways of handling a crisis driven by the financial situation as well as mindset, we defined four segments of consumers:
Customer approach will need to be customised based on the target group.Looking at the countries, Europe has many cautious wait-and-seers, while most financial survivors can be found in South-Africa. Considerate spenders are more prevalent in countries with less governmental support.
Despite the crisis, more than half of the consumers saved as much as before or even more. Based on a variety of answers, it’s clear that many consumers, across countries and segment, will pay more attention to saving their money. Saving it up also means they will review their current saving models, and go for long-term, smarter financial decisions, like investments, funds, etc.
Closely linked to saving more, we also see how people will spend more wisely. By wisely, we mean consumers will spend less money on non-essential products. They will rather spend on fewer (but quality) products than purchase cheaper items, which shows us how people would rather downgrade on quantity than on quality.
Even though online shopping is a practical, safe and easy way of purchasing, the crisis won’t cause a permanent shift to online shopping. Many consumers still enjoy going to stores.
You probably noticed how many shops were out of flour, active yeast, etc. Cooking and baking became an equivalent for family time and enjoying the small things inside your home. It’s not hard to understand how in times of distress and crisis, we generally tend to focus on family experiences, feeling of belonging, togetherness and care. Another benefit is that cooking at home means we also spend less money.
Last but not least, we took a look at the parameters that are critical when it comes to product choice. Price/promo and healthy are the key drivers when it comes to choosing a product. However, environment and ethical factors are still most popular among the non-price/quality-related product specifications.
With this overview, we just scratched the surface of our global COVID-19 study. In the following weeks, we’ll present each insight extracted from our research as an individual article where we take a closer look at data. As a side note, data we gathered now doesn’t have to be final. It’s necessary to compare and investigate consumer’s sentiment as the crisis evolves, so we will re-launch this research during autumn months to get a full picture.
We hope our study will provide practical guidelines on how to understand your consumers better. In case you wish to know more details of our global COVID-19 study, feel free to reach out. We’d be happy to answer any questions and help you understand your customers better!