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COVID-19: Analyzing Shifts in Consumer Attitudes

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With stay-at-home orders in place, many physical businesses shut down, and large-scale uncertainty about the months to come, Americans have seen a dramatic shift in their lifestyles over the last several weeks. In an effort to better understand consumer behavior and attitudes during the COVID-19 crisis, Scorpion recently surveyed 857 consumers in the hopes of gaining clearer understanding of...

  • Perceptions about the scope, impact, and anticipated duration of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • How people will prioritize their time and monetary spending over the next 6 months
  • The effect COVID-19 and social distancing may have on consumer behaviors
  • Consumer views of digital advertising in the current environment

The outlook on COVID-19

Despite the lack of clarity and certainty over when the viral crisis will be over, most respondents feel the situation will be resolved in the near future. Of those surveyed, 82% of people feel COVID-19 will be resolved within a year, and 73% of that segment anticipate a solution within 6 months.

Addressing the new normal

The survey revealed several changes in consumer behavior that reflect an adaptation to a new way of living.

When it comes to spending, many respondents will be taking a more conservative approach with their consumption habits, including putting off medium to large purchases and services:

  • 49% plan to delay travel
  • 44% plan to delay medical or dental procedures
  • 24% plan to delay home improvements or repairs
  • 24% plan to delay large purchases
  • 12% plan to delay car repairs

Also, grocery expenditures are projected to increase for 43% of respondents, indicating that almost half of the population plans to cook at home more and save money that might have been spent on more expensive restaurant meals.

What do respondents plan to do with the money they’re conserving? Almost half (42%) indicated that they will be trying to save more during the next six months, with renters leading the charge at 47%. Renters generally have less in savings to handle emergencies or unforeseen expenses, which shows us that even less financially resilient segments of the general population plan on building a more robust fund to address economic challenges in the future.

In addition, with a large portion of the population either quarantined or working from home, many people are spending vast amounts of time online. The majority of respondents (55.5%) spend between 3-6 hours online, while another 29% are connected for as much as 7+ hours.

In breaking down how time is being spent online, respondents said they expect to increase their usage or consumption of the following activities:

  • Streaming services: 42.0% user increase, driven by 18-44 year olds
  • Social media usage: 33.8% user increase, driven by 18-44 year olds
  • Online shopping: 30.7% user increase, driven by 25-34 year old homeowners
  • Work/telecommuting: 25.4% user increase, driven by 25-44 year old homeowners
  • Mobile gaming: 21.1% user increase, driven by 18-24 year old male renters
  • Console gaming: 18.3% user increase, driven by 18-24 year old male homeowners
  • Virtual workouts: 14.4% user increase, driven by 35-44 year old homeowners

One particular point of interest is that while mobile online browsing (especially with young people) has been increasing over the past several years, 39.4% of 18-24 year olds (and 33.3% across all ages) expect to spend more time in front of their computers while at home.

Reaching people during the crisis

With a customer base forced to stay at home and spending more time online, businesses that have shut down or seen their foot traffic drop significantly have an opportunity to grab the attention of a captive audience by utilizing several specific digital marketing channels.

When it comes to online advertising, 36.1% of respondents indicate they will click on advertisements that appeal to them, while another 14.7% make it a point to research the product or service at a later time. This means that more than half of the population would be receptive to brands advertising to them.

With many businesses dialing back their marketing budgets to solve short-term cash flow issues, this is an extraordinary opportunity for brands willing to invest in their post-crisis future. With less competition vying for previously coveted ad inventory, costs to reach out to new audiences and stay in front of current customers have dropped dramatically. Not only that, but in the near term, these audiences will be increasingly reachable online, making digital marketing in the age of coronavirus one of the most potent and cost-effective messaging vehicles in recent history.

While people may be putting off hiring services or making purchases right now, planting seeds of brand awareness and recognition is bound to pay dividends down the road. To illustrate the importance of brand recall, we’ll point back to our survey: 40% of respondents said they would click on advertisements of companies they recognized first while another 29% would spend more time researching companies they were familiar with.

What Can Brands Do?

If brands get in front of their target audiences by providing valuable content during this crisis, they will have an overwhelming likelihood of being the first business to come to mind when consumers reopen their wallets in the future.

This is especially vital because, despite current economic uncertainty, 72% of money-savers from our survey said they expect to be in the same job six months from now, indicating this is a relatively economically stable population. This same population will have funds put away and pent-up demand for services and products they have been putting off.

And who will they turn to? The brands they recognize.

For more resources and strategies for getting your franchise through the current pandemic, contact us here.