Corona Tracking - Wave 1: Changes in purchase behaviour and media usage

A global crisis, like the one we are currently living in, does not only destabilize our personal life, but also affects the economic aspect. How do you, as a brand, take responsible action in such circumstances? That’s the question that intrigued Serviceplan Group.


The global results of the enquiry will be shared on Thursday 4th of June, at 15:00, when Serviceplan and PUB will explain in detail the results of the enquiry during a livestream with guest speakers (e.g. Joseph Jaffe).

To get a representative overview of the economic impact of Covid-19 in Belgium, the agency collaborated with PUB to conduct a national survey every two weeks with respondents aged between 18 and 69 years old, spread out over 4 waves. That way, the results will statistically give both a subdivision and an evolution which can be filtered by values such as age, region and education. Doing so, the survey guarantees a detailed report on the most affected touchpoints, the general (changes in) mood, purchase criteria and brand perception. Additionally, the study gives the opportunity to identify specific profiles per sector in order to find out, for example, which persona buys more household appliances or which group sees a decrease in alcoholic beverages.

Associate your brand to an attribute

The first wave immediately set the tone. Only 30% of respondents attaches importance to brand names. That underlines the general trend of decreasing brand loyalty. To secure your ability to meet client expectations, it’s crucial to remain both relevant and transparent.

One important discovery is that 84% of the Belgians indicates that both quality and price are decisive purchase criteria in the current circumstances. Looking at brand perception and trust, 75% of respondents feels like brands do not adequately manage client needs. More specifically, 69% expects more social engagement from brands, while 73% indicates their preference for more local products. It pays off for a brand to underline attributes like quality, price and locality, since the survey showed that company presence is still in demand. 57% of the respondents indicates that they don’t mind the continuation of advertisement campaigns and 53% even indicated that they like to be kept up to date digitally regarding brands, products and offers. Additionally, the general feeling among the respondents is one of confidence. They believe that the economy is able to provide the necessary products throughout the crisis. Moreover, media usage is also on the rise: respondents indicate an increased use of serious media channels for their news consumption. 69% increased their usage of social media to keep in touch with family and friends.

How are Belgians consuming media during Covid-19 period


How does that translate into purchase behaviour? First of all, especially retail fashion, energy and gas supply, telecom, financial services and DIY notice an enormous shift to online sales, with over a quarter of the population buying their products online. Energy and gas suppliers also feature as one the categories with the biggest sale increases, together with daily groceries, sweets & snacks and non-alcoholic beverages. That list shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that activities like cooking, household chores and spending time with family are the most common ones nowadays.

Covid-19 impact in the way we buy products in Belgium.

On the other side of the spectrum, we find fuel stations. With no less than 60% of respondents indicating a decrease in the use of fuel, they are affected the most by the crisis. Tourism occupies the second place in the ranking with a decrease of 54%. Completing the top three is outerwear, shoes & accessories, with half of the population noticing a decrease in their purchases.

Our advice

It cannot be denied that the current insecurity causes both a personal and an economic stagnation for most of the respondents. The majority of Belgians occupies a neutral position concering the current circumstances, meaning they don’t consider themselves particularly pessimistic nor optimistic. On a personal level, watchfulness reigns: the population postpones decisions for the future until the situation offers more security. However, that doesn’t mean that brands should do the same.

Now is the time to build up latent brand equity. The increased media consumption offers an abundance of opportunities for client interactions on different touchpoints. Clients are looking for brands that act responsibly and take up social engagement. More than ever, it’s crucial to remain present in the life of the clients, to reach out to them and take active part in their daily routine.

If you have any question or if you want to have more details about your sector, don’t hesitate in sending an email at We’ll gladly set up a call to go through your sector’s specific results.

More results

The full results will be analyzed on the 4th of June. Serviceplan and PUB will host a livestream starting at 15:00, featuring a wide array of speakers, including Joseph Jaffe, co-founder of HMS Beagle and seasoned speaker on marketing, innovation and change. Do you already have questions surrounding these results or are you interested in the results of other categories? Contact Serviceplan Group on and we will gladly arrange a call. We can even offer you a tour in our recently renovated agency. If you promise to wear a mask and gloves, of course!

Corona Tracking Workshops
  • Find out how your consumers’ media usage and purchase behaviour have changed since the pandemic
  • Know how to adapt efficiently to your consumer’s new needs
  • Plan for your brand’s survival
Thank you for reading
Interested in doing
projects with us?
We are dedicated to your entrepreneurial success. For us, flexibility, agility and consideration of your individual needs always has the highest priority. From strategy to analytics, from print to digital, from Brussels to New York, we provide all communication services, everywhere. Just give us a call.

Let’s grab a coffee and make your project happen.