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March 31, 2020

Keeping up with changing consumer behaviour in a COVID-19 world

Global data, insights and consulting company Kantar recently released its first study of consumer behaviour focused purely on the COVID-19 pandemic. The study took place across the period from the 14th March to the 23rd March, a time when there were estimated to be 200,000 cases of the virus. The study surveyed 25,000 people across 30 markets in different stages of the outbreak categorised as either early stage (US was in this group at that point), mid stage (community transmission was taking place) and late stage (think Italy and China).

The study demonstrated the increases in certain media consumption including TV, online platforms, social networks and messaging apps. These findings seem obvious however the study dug deeper into the types of content people were sharing across social media and messaging services. There were six core themes identified in the following hierarchy:

  1. Using memes and selfies to communicate more serious messages than the typically lighthearted nature the format is associated with.
  2. A longing for nature as people start to grapple with self isolation.
  3. ‘Cozy content’ such as nestling up with loved ones and pets.
  4. People adapting to social and work lives in digital formats.
  5. Creativity and craft as people find new ways to keep themselves entertained.
  6. The new essentials – sharing images of things that are important to people in an isolated world.
Covid-19 World
Covid-19 World

The study also provided some valuable advice for how brands could play in this new world. Overwhelmingly, consumers are looking for brands to make the welfare of their stakeholders their main priority such as flexible working conditions for staff, donations to support health services, coupons and discounts for consumers.

Consumers are looking for brands to help alleviate the suffering of people involved in the success of that brand.

Over in the US, Restaurant Brands International (RBI) has taken the bull by the horns announcing huge financial support measures across its three key restaurant chains of Popeyes, Burger King Tim Hortons. Employees at corporate-owned restaurants have been granted an extra 14 days of paid sick leave if they are diagnosed with the virus or required to self isolate. For coffee chain Tim Hortons, they have announced a $40 million employee support fund that restaurant owners can tap into to pay sick employees. On top of these measures, all corporate restaurant employees will receive a bonus in April ‘to recognise their tremendous service to our guests and communities during this difficult time’.

Not all brands have as deep pockets as RBI, however it’s the sentiment that the brand which understands who makes the business tick will build positive brand love amongst its consumers.

Who are the people that contribute to your brand’s success and how can you support them now when they’re most in need?

Apart from doing an important community service, your consumers will love you more in the future.


Want to know how to navigate these rough seas? Get in touch with one of our crew.