Mumbai: As governments around the world attempt to reboot their economies, consumer uncertainty is continuing to hinder progress. Reassurance from authorities that ‘opening up’ is safe is becoming less and less sufficient for a return to normal life. Wave 7 of Kantar’s COVID-19 Barometer, with more than 100,000 consumer interviews around the world, identified:
- Consumers around the world are becoming less supportive of governments relaxing restrictions with a 9% drop in acceptance of measures (from 28% in June to 19% today), and a 10% drop in support for a full reopening of social and leisure environments (from 27% in June to 17% today)
- Consumers are less willing to return to normal activities, hindering an economic recovery with just 36% willing to return to travelling on public transport vs. 41% in July and an increasing number of people delaying visits to the hairdresser (46%), restaurants/bars (56%), religious sites 67%, gyms (70%), cinemas (72%) and large events (79%) for at least one more month.
- Government disapproval continues to increase with two in five globally saying their government isn’t doing enough to tackle the pandemic, and 29% overall are unhappy with their Government’s approach
- Disapproval is highest in the countries currently with the highest numbers of cases of coronavirus such as the USA where disapproval in the Government’s approach has risen from 36% in May to 48% today
- With some countries showing signs of a second wave, health concerns are growing; 2% more people are now classed by Kantar’s researchers as part of the Precarious Worrier tribe, and 1 in 2 are now very scared about the situation. This is most prominent in South Africa (where Precarious Worrier numbers increased from 17% of the population last month to 26% today), USA (from 18% to 26%) and Spain (from 17% to 23%).
Finding a near-term recovery
Kantar’s research suggests a near-term recovery will be difficult to achieve for many countries. Consumer finances continue to remain heavily impacted, with nearly three quarters of the population claiming to have already, or expect to have, their income damaged by the pandemic. The result has been changing priorities for many:
- 64% are prioritising financial planning
- The number of people paying special attention to prices when they shop has grown from just over half (56%) in April to two thirds (67%) today
- Focus on personal needs is growing, such as preparing for future challenges (29%), focusing on loved ones (30%) and supporting a local economy/ buying local (68%)
To drive recovery, brands will need to deliver the right messages and experiences to specific consumer ‘tribes’’ needs in the new normal.
Post-COVID-19 opportunities are emerging
“Despite the challenges we are all addressing, we see a growing appetite for change and renewal in our research,” observed Rosie Hawkins, Chief Innovation Officer, Kantar. “Environmental causes and demand for brands to enact positive change have always been a priority for many, but we see a renewed focus in these areas. Demand for brands to be an example and guide change has consistently grown over several months to become the primary expectation of consumers. Our research highlights an opportunity for brands in prioritising product sustainability, waste reduction and purpose driven products and experiences.”
The study re-establishes Kantar’s Coronavirus Tribes as the prominent segmentation to help brands design the most effective strategies to connect with consumers, with all six tribes expressing a desire to see the environmental causes prioritised:
- 22% of global consumers think environmental issues are more critical than ever and 51% think they remain important
- Waste and pollution reduction top the agenda of concerns, followed closely by product sustainability and local production
- Consumer demand that brands be an example and guide the change has consistently increased over several months to be the number one thing consumers expect of brands at 25% (vs.17% in April)