COVID-19 Report: Aussies looks to brands for safety, affordability and product availability

Two-part Kantar consumer survey shows the changing attitude and worries of Australian consumers in terms of economic, social and purchasing behaviour

Australian consumers are looking to trusted brands to provide them with safety and security during these difficult times as more of us become concerned about the economic, social and health impact of COVID-19, a new report claims.

A new two-wave survey conducted by brand consultancy, Kantar, of 1000 Australians between 6-9 March and 20-23 March found 45 per cent of Australians are now overwhelmingly concerned about COVID-19 impacting their lives, compared to just 16 per cent two weeks ago.

The research also found 64 per cent of Australians are worried the coronavirus crisis will be worse than an economic recession, up from 19 per cent two weeks ago, leading six in 10 to proactively look for support to plan their financial future and security. According to Kantar, these individuals overwhelmingly want affordable pricing, deals and promotions from banking and insurance providers.

Another key finding from the research was 45 per cent of consumers concerned about how the pandemic will impact their daily life. Kantar found six in 10 Australians had already stopped eating out by the time it conducted its second tranche of surveying, up 51 per cent on the prior survey period. In addition, 63 per cent were socialising less, up from just 7 per cent previously, and four in 10 had stopped social gatherings in their home, up from just 3 per cent.

Safety, affordability and product availability dominate discussions and spending. The second round of surveys found three in 10 consumers stocking up on personal hygiene products, up from 18 per cent, with more than 20 per cent buying more bathroom products. In contrast, 15 per cent had reduced purchasing beauty products, and one in four spent less on luxury items.

Helping pick up such goods is online shopping capability. Kantar found three-quarters of Australians maintained their online shopping habits between its first and second survey rounds, with one in 10 increasing online shopping and 16 per cent reducing it. The latter figure was attributed to lack of product availability and/or closure of supermarket home delivery services. Social distancing led one in three to reduce backs-and-mortar store visits, but the rush on supermarkets contributed to 14 per cent increasing in-store attendance. What’s more, 16 per cent of respondents admitted to stockpiling during this time.  

What was also clear was consumers want brands to make grocery items safe and affordable, Kantar said. Eighty per cent demanded easier access, even as six in 10 said they were confident Australians wouldn’t face scarcity.

Putting the results into a brand context, Kantar Australia chief commercial officer, Jonathan Sinton, said it was clear Australians want to be assured the brands they choose are transparent, trustworthy and in control of their supply chains.

“The way brands deal with the crisis now may also influence consumers in the future. People expect brands to deliver real value, act responsibility and do right by the community, including their employees,” he said. “While these findings show the extent to which coronavirus is affecting people’s daily lives, we recognise that it’s a rapidly changing event. As the crisis intensifies and continues to spread, people’s attitudes and concerns will change just as quickly.”

Sinton’s advice to brands was to consider current consumer concerns, how coronavirus will impact longer-term economic health, and to realise the choices people are making today may continue to change well after the epidemic passes.

“While these findings show the extent to which coronavirus is affecting people’s daily lives, we recognise it’s a rapidly changing event,” he said. “As the crisis intensifies and continues to spread, people’s attitudes and concerns will change just as quickly.”

“Brands must consider current consumer concerns, how coronavirus will impact longer-term economic health and that the choices people make may continue to change well after the epidemic comes to an end. People will likewise look for trust in brands and their supply chains as they make choices as to what they may or may not buy.

“The upsurge in consumer behaviour change is forcing a rethink of resilient business strategies for short-term survival and on long-term strategy to ensure recovery and sustainable growth.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.  

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