For most people, the effect of Covid-19 on the body is temporary. A dry cough. Fever. Shortness of breath. Then recovery.
But the way the pandemic has altered the behavior of consumers may turn out to be a more permanent shift.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal reported that the global cosmetics market is down 8%, with less people venturing out of their homes. Demand for at-home cooking products such as Hellman’s Mayonnaise, Knorr soup cubes, and frozen dinners are on the rise. Consumers are ordering more online, embracing food-delivery services, and buying cleaning and hygiene products in droves.
And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Here are three ways the pandemic has shifted consumers’ mindsets and purchasing behavior, with the data to prove it.
1) Live entertainment in the age of coronavirus
The live entertainment industry has experienced significant disruption since Covid-19 began spreading globally in January. The NBA suspended its season in early March. The International Olympic Committee postponed this summer’s Olympic Games in Tokyo until next year. Concert venues have been shuttered as many countries have limited social gatherings to 50, 10, or even 2 people.
What does the future hold for live entertainment? Data suggests that consumers’ fear of Covid-19 might keep them from returning to arenas, concert halls, and other venues even after the industry kicks back into gear. A recent global survey by Dynata, the world’s largest first-party survey platform, found that over half of people expressed significant concern about returning to live events.
“Our findings suggest a mood of caution as people think about a return to live experiences,” state the researchers at Dynata. “Sixty-five percent overall say they will return to live concerts quite slowly or not at all; 55% say the same for movies, 57% for sporting events and 64% for live theater.”
The team at Dynata also found that, since the pandemic started, more than half of those surveyed have live-streamed a concert, movie, sports event, or theatrical production, with movies being the most popular choice of entertainment. Live-streaming events is most common in China, where close to 70% of Chinese people have live-streamed at least one movie since the pandemic began.
Consumers aren’t nearly as shy about returning to restaurants. A recent survey by the Cincinnati-based experiential marketing firm AGAR found that consumers were more likely to indicate a desire to return to restaurants than sporting events, concerts, and cultural holidays and fairs.
Moreover, consumers are voicing a growing interest in health-conscious event planning. Asking consumers what event features they would most desire in the future, the team at AGAR found that hand sanitizing kiosks, social distancing ground stickers, and spaced-apart seating were on the top of the list. Interestingly, over a third of people expressed a willingness to pay a premium to attend smaller events with limited capacities.
“The results of the study clearly show us the path forward, what must be done to bring people back and to make them comfortable,” said AGAR founder, Josh Heuser. “It’s vital that we ensure people feel supported, safe and cared for while attending events.”
2) Contactless payment is becoming the rule not the exception
Covid-19 may have finally given contactless payment the nudge it needs to become the go-to mode of payment. The team at AGAR found that consumers view contactless payment as a necessary feature at live events moving forward.
Prior to the pandemic, approximately 22% of the more than 11,000 global respondents surveyed by Dynata expressed a preference for cash. This has now fallen to 15%. The countries most prepared to make the shift to contactless payment are China, Singapore, and the United Kingdom.
“The past few months have seen an increase in the availability of contactless methods,” according to researchers at Dynata. “The biggest growth has been seen in the USA, moving from 38% to 46% ownership of a contactless method of payment.”
3) Adjusting to telemedicine
According to the researchers at Dynata, 84% of people using telemedicine services during the pandemic were doing so for the first time. And the data show that it is here to stay; 55% of people using telemedicine found the experience to be extremely or very satisfactory. Interestingly, people in the United Kingdom, United States, and Canada were most satisfied with the experience, perhaps because there is a relatively low number of doctors per capita in these countries.
Beyond telemedicine, consumers are increasingly interested in products that provide protection against environmental contaminants and pathogens. Wesley LaPorte, co-founder and CEO of PhoneSoap, a company that makes UV light phone sanitizers, notes a significant uptick (+500%) in PhoneSoap web traffic.
“As awareness of the spread of COVID-19 began to grow in the country, PhoneSoap quickly sold out of UV-C light sanitizers,” said LaPorte. “After the spike in March, web traffic is still significantly higher than last year, with consumers continuing to place pre-orders at unprecedented levels.”
Conclusion: Sigmund Freud was famous for popularizing the idea that human behavior is largely guided by sex, attraction, and the pleasure principle. Covid-19 provides a compelling counterpoint to Freud’s theory — that, especially during times of heightened panic and threat, it is the survival instinct that trumps all other motivations.