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"Consumers around the world are becoming less supportive of governments relaxing restrictions": Kantar

Kantar’s COVID-19 Barometer has been exploring how people are feeling and acting around the world since the start of the pandemic.

As governments around the world attempt to reboot their economies, consumer uncertainty is continuing to hinder progress. Reassurance from authorities that ‘opening up’ is safe is becoming less and less sufficient for a return to normal life. Wave 7 of Kantar’s COVID-19 Barometer, with more than 100,000 consumer interviews around the world, identified (that):

● Consumers around the world are becoming less supportive of governments relaxing restrictions, with a nine per cent drop in acceptance of measures (from 28 per cent in June to 19 per cent today), and a 10 per cent drop in support for a full reopening of social and leisure environments (from 27 per cent in June to 17 per cent today).

● Consumers are less willing to return to normal activities, hindering an economic recovery, with just 36 per cent willing to return to travelling on public transport versus 41 per cent in July. An increasing number of people are delaying visits to the hairdresser (46 per cent), restaurants/bars (56 per cent), religious sites (67 per cent), gyms (70 per cent), cinemas (72 per cent) and large events (79 per cent) for at least one more month.

● Government disapproval continues to increase, with two in five globally saying their government isn’t doing enough to tackle the pandemic, and 29 per cent (overall) unhappy with their government’s approach.

● Disapproval is highest in the countries currently with the highest numbers of Coronavirus cases, such as the US, where disapproval in the government’s approach has risen from 36 per cent in May to 48 per cent today.

● With some countries showing signs of a second wave, health concerns are growing. Two per cent more people are now classed by Kantar’s researchers as part of the Precarious Worrier tribe, and one in two are now very scared about the situation. This is most prominent in South Africa (where Precarious Worrier numbers increased from 17 per cent of the population last month to 26 per cent today), USA (from 18 per cent to 26 per cent) and Spain (from 17 per cent to 23 per cent).

Finding a near-term recovery

Kantar’s research suggests a near-term recovery will be difficult to achieve for many countries. Consumer finances continue to remain heavily impacted, with nearly three quarters of the population claiming to have already (had), or expecting, their income damaged by the pandemic. The result has been changing priorities for many:

● 64 per cent are prioritising financial planning.

● The number of people paying special attention to prices when they shop has grown from just over half (56 per cent) in April to two-thirds (67 per cent) today.

● Focus on personal needs is growing, such as preparing for future challenges (29 per cent), focusing on loved ones (30 per cent) and supporting a local economy/buying local (68 per cent).

To drive recovery, brands will need to deliver the right messages and experiences to specific consumer ‘tribes' needs in the new normal.

Post-COVID-19 opportunities are emerging

“Despite the challenges we are all addressing, we see a growing appetite for change and renewal in our research,” observed Rosie Hawkins, chief innovation officer, Kantar. “Environmental causes and demand for brands to enact positive change have always been a priority for many, but we see a renewed focus in these areas. Demand for brands to be an example and guide change has consistently grown over several months to become the primary expectation of consumers. Our research highlights an opportunity for brands in prioritising product sustainability, waste reduction and purpose-driven products and experiences.”

The study re-establishes Kantar’s Coronavirus Tribes as the prominent segmentation to help brands design the most effective strategies to connect with consumers, with all six tribes expressing a desire to see the environmental causes prioritised:

● 22 per cent of global consumers think environmental issues are more critical than ever, and 51 per cent think they remain important.

● Waste and pollution reduction top the agenda of concerns, followed closely by product sustainability and local production.

● Consumer demand that brands be an example and guide the change has consistently increased over several months to be the number one thing consumers expect of brands at 25 per cent (versus 17 per cent in April).