May 14, 2020

5-14 Update: The Impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Consumer Behavior

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The data in this post is from an earlier version of our COVID-19 Consumer Sentiment Survey. Click below to view the most recent version of these insights.





As stay-at-home orders begin to lift or relax across the country, impact on shopping behavior remains stable, and consumer concern declines slightly. In addition to asking consumers about their shopping behaviors, we checked in on their thoughts surrounding today’s advertising landscape to learn more about what ads they were noticing, what impact they had, and what they’d like to see moving forward. 

Half of consumers say all or most advertising they see relates to COVID-19

Nearly all consumers who watch cable TV say they have seen a significant portion of commercials dedicated to COVID-19 messaging-- 55% say these advertisements make up all or most of the ads they’ve seen in the past two weeks. 

When asked to select which words best describe these advertisements, the top selections were hopeful, positive and empathetic. However, consumers are also getting negative feelings from some of these ads; roughly one-in-five described ads as stressful, fearful or sad, and one-in-seven thought they were becoming cliché. Advertisers must stay attuned to consumer perceptions to ensure their messages resonate in the right ways.

Moving forward, consumers are most interested in seeing advertisements that point to a brand’s new safety precautions and humanitarian acts the brand is doing to help the community or their employees; they are less interested in hearing information on how a brand's product would help them. 

9 in 10 consumers have changed their shopping behavior as a result of Coronavirus

This week, 89% of consumers said their shopping behavior had been impacted by Coronavirus, in line with past weeks. Even as we begin to see more states lift stay-at-home orders and get businesses up-and-running again, we expect to see continued elevated levels of impact on consumer behavior given ongoing uncertainties, supply chain disruptions, and risks of potential resurgences. 

Online shopping and stocking-up rise this week

Across the board, many of the shopping impacts we’ve seen as a result of COVID-19 were up again this week. Online shopping, stocking up, and avoiding eating out were the most notable behaviors that saw an uptick in the past week, making clear that reopening doesn’t mean an immediate return to normal.

Online delivery and click-and-collect services continue to attract new users

Nearly three-fourths of consumers surveyed said they had placed an online delivery (ship-to-home) order in the past week, and nearly half said they had placed an online order for pick-up (click-and-collect). 

11% of those who placed an online ship-to-home order indicated it was their first time ever or first time in the past six months doing so; 33% of click-and-collect users said the same. While these numbers will fluctuate week-to-week, the overall trend is clear: there is a large, sustained shift online that doesn’t appear to be stopping soon. Retailers must continue to prioritize and invest in these delivery and click-and-collect options.

Concern over Coronavirus at lowest level since Early March

This week, 21% of consumers rated themselves as “very concerned (10/10)” about coronavirus, which is the lowest level we’ve seen since we began running our survey in early March. After the initial spike in mid-March, we saw a few weeks of elevated concern, followed by a sustained decline in recent weeks. Though the severity of concern seems to be lessening, 79% of individuals still rate themselves as somewhat concerned (5/10) or higher.

Concern over economic impact remain high

Economic impact and risk of infection continued to be the primary concerns cited by consumers. Although many states began reopening or sharing plans to do so, inability to see friends and family remained one of the top concerns. Even as the country begins reopening, it’s going to take time to rebuild confidence and feelings of safety and security in this time of COVID-19.

Looking Ahead

Given the fast-changing nature of the outbreak, we anticipate continued fluctuations in behavior, impact and levels of concern in the coming weeks. As seen recently, even the lifting of stay-at-home orders will not be a quick-fix for businesses or consumers, but rather will initiate a slow return to a new normal. Now more than ever, it will be important to monitor consumer behavior and sentiment in order to navigate reopening communities and adjusting to this new normal.

Numerator will continue to closely monitor the situation to ensure brands and retailers have the most up-to-date information on consumer behavior. Each week during the outbreak we will publish a variety of resources to help you understand COVID-19’s impact on consumers. All of these resources can be found on our Coronavirus Research Center.

For more information on how your brand or category is affected by COVID-19, please contact your Numerator Customer Success and Consultants or get in touch with us.











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