Survey: Consumer Behaviour During COVID-19 Pandemic

Posted on 1 May 2020 Jason Widjaja & Catherine Chipeta

On April 24 2020, we conducted an omnibus survey on ~500 general population respondents each from the UK and USA to understand the impact of the pandemic on consumer behaviour.

The drastic measures nations are taking to overcome COVID-19 are limiting fundamental components of our lifestyles by way of lockdowns, loss of work, restricted travel, and a sense of uncertainty. Unsurprisingly, these changes are significantly affecting buying decisions, as consumers seek to navigate through this unprecedented time. We’ve got some interesting insights from our recent omnibus survey.

Health and Economic Impact Concerns

Consumer health and economic impact concerns

Health and economic impact are the two strongest concerns for respondents, as fears of contracting COVID-19 ramp up and employment plummets. Both factors are of concern to most respondents, with the UK slightly more concerned about health over the economy. The USA are equally as concerned with health and economic circumstances surrounding the virus. In both countries, the vast majority consider themselves “Very concerned”.

Consumer Feelings

Consumer health and economic impact concerns

With more time spent at home and a lack of clarity surrounding the near future, consumers are notably feeling worried, bored, and anxious during this time. Worry and boredom are the most apparent feelings for the UK and USA, respectively. Whilst UK respondents are more likely to be worried and anxious, they also note slightly higher levels of productivity and lower levels of irritation than the US, who are happier and less frustrated.

Consumer Activities

Consumer activities during COVID-19

As lockdowns are forcing entertainment venues to close and the public to remain at home, consumers are finding more domestic means of recreation, with music and TV occupying the time of over half all respondents. Consumers are also favouring online shopping, an expected trend given the closure of many brick-and-mortar stores. Interestingly, holiday planning is also a popular activity, likely serving as an optimistic distraction from the current reality.

Sources of Comfort

Sources of comfort during COVID-19 pandemic

Heightened feelings of negativity and changes in everyday living are seeing consumers take comfort in both elements of normalcy and elements of intrigue. Whilst the UK are happiest watching new tv shows, the USA show higher interest levels than the UK in other “new” means of comfort, as reflected by consistently higher preferences for these. Isolation appears to be prompting consumers to talk to friends and family, more with almost half of respondents from both nations stating this brings comfort.

Income Changes

Expected income changes due to COVID-19

The damaging effects of COVID-19 on the economy are disrupting job security, with more than half of all consumers expecting reductions to their household income due to redundancies, furloughs, layoffs, and lower work availability. Whilst the UK and USA are both being hit hard by this, more consumers in the USA are losing their entire household income, whilst a greater percentage of UK consumers are experiencing no change to their income at all. Conversely, the USA reported a higher number of respondents as benefitting from the circumstances through increased hours, business, and benefits.

Budget Allocation

Budget allocation pre and post COVID-19

Households are adjusting their budgets in anticipation of income loss caused by COVID-19. The UK and USA surprisingly have little overlap, with similarities only being shown by reductions to travel and an increase in savings/investments, and other items. UK consumers are otherwise maintaining a similar budget, whereas the US are allocating less to most aspects of their budget and a higher percentage towards savings/investments.

Learn how COVID-19 is affecting your business

Each industry is currently experiencing unique changes in consumer behaviour and trends, with differing requirements. If you want to understand how COVID-19 is directly impacting your business, we suggest reassessing and refining your ongoing studies. Schedule a consultation with our team for research support and assistance that meets your needs.