We continue our series of insights into consumer sentiment and future behaviour, based on our COVID-19 global study.
We talked to 4 500 people in 9 countries across the globe about how they feel, how they view the future and how they think their behaviour will change over the next 12 months. These topics were the basis for grouping the people into consumer segments defined by the data we gathered. This resulted in four very distinct groups of people, present in each country, although some groups are more prevalent in certain regions.
By identifying these consumer segments, we enable businesses to better understand economic and social changes and how consumers’ are reacting to this. Here are the four segments we extracted from our research:
Let’s take a look at each segment separately:
In the first category, people are optimistic about the future. Many of them were able to save up the same or even higher amounts of money during the lockdown.
Considering they are still well off financially speaking, they don’t feel guilty to spend money (often on high-quality brands), and they are going to continue with their purchasing habits.
It’s no wonder this segment is optimistic about the future, as they don’t have to worry about finances and survival. Nevertheless, like the other groups, they will review their financial plans/savings/investments to further optimise and grow their wealth.
In this category, there are prevalently younger generations. As the crisis hit, they realised they should be more careful with their money, or, at least, believe they should. Being a part of the society that was impacted by the crisis, especially financially, they are looking into smart ways to save their money.
They do this by reviewing financial plans, monthly bills, and going to cheaper stores. On the other hand, they are quite optimistic about the future as they have a set plan on how to save money which will allow them to still enjoy life and treat themselves once in a while.
This segment is most keen to prioritise eco-friendly, ethical and local when purchasing products.
The Cautious wait-and-seers are set apart by two elements: a rather pessimistic mindset and they don’t like change. Like the Comfortable optimists, they are also not heavily impacted by the pandemic, at least not financially. Most often, they will keep spending at the rate they did before the crisis, but they will also re-think buying cheaper options especially when easy opportunities pass by.
However, unlike the Comfortable optimists, they are pessimistic about the future and feel somewhat disoriented in the “new normal”. They don’t have a clear plan on how to tackle the crisis and are rather inert to change, even though they understand they need to adapt.
In the fourth category, the crisis has struck people the hardest. For them, every penny matters now and they have to save on anything they can. They have to modify their spending habits the most and are not in a position anymore to spend money on unnecessary goods. Also for essential products, they will look for the cheapest options.
As they are struggling financially, they have a pessimistic view of the future and are worried about how they will be able to deal with the changing economic situation.
The financial situation of a household is one of the key drivers of current and future consumer behaviour, even more than before. Spending power is dictating what people are buying.
However, not all behaviour can be explained by someone’s salary. Mindset and attitude are equally important. It is crucial to understand how customers are coping with the current situation, mindset-wise to successfully engage with them.
Every consumer is pushing a reset button, some harder than others. All consumers, regardless of how they are dealing with the pandemic, are reviewing their needs; whether they have to or feel they should. While in the last decades we got used to living in a “consumption world”, buying what and when we need it, today consumers think twice before they spend. “Do we really need this?” is the question many people ask themselves.
Even if brands can show their value, some customer will still look for cheaper options. Either because their primary concern is to pay bills, or because they want to save money so they can afford other products.
These four distinct consumer ways of handling a crisis will lead to specific behaviour and needs. While we continue adapting to this new COVID reality, we want to support businesses and help them find their way and communicate better to their customers. Companies can apply our insights to customise their approach, messaging, and products based on target groups, and much more.