COVID-19 mindset: How pandemic times are shaping global consumers

This April 2020 report from Fleishman Hillard (PR and digital marketing agency) outlines key findings from a global study into the impact of Covid-19 on consumer behaviour. Based on surveys with over 6000 consumers across the UK, US, China, South Korea, Germany, and Italy, findings cover consumer confidence, values, and timeframes. The resource can, therefore, help with ensuring a high street, town centre, or retailer, meets these changing consumer demands.

Date added 17 August 2021
Last updated 17 August 2021

This Fleishman Hillard report outlines key findings from a global study into the impact of Covid-19 on consumer behaviour, involving surveys in March/April 2020 with over 6000 consumers across the UK (n=1,123), US (n=1,119), China (n=1,057), South Korea (n=1,043), Germany (n=1,131), and Italy (n=1,093).

With 73% of respondents claiming the pandemic has changed how they view the world, it has evidently had an impact on consumer behaviour and values, with key findings summarised below.

The impact of Covid-19 on consumers

Consumer confidence

Consumer confidence in finances and health, has been dented by the pandemic.

After the pandemic, 26% of consumers predicted they will save more money and plan life decisions more seriously, and 29% will consider exposure to diseases when planning travel.  

Consumer timeframes

The pandemic has changed the way consumers think about, and plan for, the future.

At the time of the survey, 39% of UK consumers estimated it would take between 5months-2years before life would return to ‘normal’, contrasting with just 8% of Chinese consumers.

34% of respondents reported they are currently postponing major life decisions, 65% are postponing purchases and travel, and 90% expect enduring consumer behaviour changes, beyond the pandemic.

Consumer values

Consumers’ growing desires to see more ethical behaviour from companies has been accelerated by the pandemic.

There is growing concern amongst consumers about firms’ role as employers, with 63% of respondents claiming the pandemic has changed their views in this regard, 52% reporting businesses taking better care of employees was very important, and 32% intending to purchase from companies who took care of employees during the crisis.

91% of consumers reported helping businesses support their employees through postponing rather than cancelling purchases (46%), buying gift cards (19%), and tipping more than usual (14%).

Adapting to changing consumers

The report outlines four key things a business could do, in order to meet the changing demands and values of consumers, as summarised below.

1. Live your values 

Consumer fears and changing expectations have led to consumers evaluating company values more than ever. Help your employees and communities.

2. Be the best employer 

Consumers expect employers to do anything they can to support their employees. Showcase people, not brands, as heroes.

3. Pace the recovery discussion

Businesses need to balance the push for commercial recovery with the need to contain the virus.

4. Reimagine the fundamentals

It is important for organisations to re-examine their values and for well-being to play a bigger role.