Two times a month, Serviceplan Group publishes the results of their global enquiry about Covid-19’s economic impact in Belgium, in collaboration with PUB. Factors such as the consumers’ mood, habits, purchase behaviour and media usage are analysed through a survey of 600 Belgians aged between 18 and 69.
This week, discover the final results of our study, concerning weeks 21 and 22 of the pandemic. Our study finds that the consumers’ optimism has not stopped deteriorating, that price and quality remain the most important purchase criteria, even though quarantine is almost over, and that the boost of TV news and online news consumption has slowed down.
In the past eight weeks, the percentage of people feeling positive dropped from 72% to 65% (-7.4p.p), and the number of people feeling pessimistic increased from 21.8% to 30.3% (+8.5p.p).
People with a positive view are mainly men, in a relationship or married, highly educated and employed full-time. Most of the optimists are concentrated in Brussels and aged between 18 and 39 years old.
The number of people who think the isolation measures will last more than three months (up to July) or even more than 6 months (up to October) increased by 14 p.p (from 17% to 31%) in the end of May, compared to the beginning of April.
The pandemic incited several changes of habit among Belgians, especially during the first weeks.
What we observe now is that several new habits that were strong in the beginning of the isolation such as contacting friends and family using social media, doing more household chores, getting things done that had been set aside still remain for more than 55% of the population, but declined over the weeks.
Other trends have become more and more relevant throughout the weeks, such as planning for the future and making technological upgrades to the house.
This shift in the way of thinking and way of living may persist for the next few months as a few of the isolation measures will remain, and it’s important to take this into consideration.
Home improvement has gained significant importance compared the beginning of the lockdown (+6p.p.) and with the reopening of shops, by the end of May categories that had suffered a decrease are now resuming consumption: Alcoholic Beverages, Retail Fashion, Shoes and Accessories, Cosmetics and Beauty products.
In weeks 19-20 we observe a significant shift to online purchases for Ladies’ and men’s retail Fashion (40% buy online), Energy and gas supply (37% buy online), Shoes and accessories (36% buy online), Health related products and subscriptions (28% buy online), and Household appliances (23% buy online).
In store purchase is especially significant for beverages, snacks & sweets, groceries, pet food and Hardware/DIY/Home Improvement products, which’s offline share has increased from 33% to 47% as shops reopened. This indicates people’s preference to buy in-store for this category when possible.
We can see a significant shift to online purchases for Ladies’ and men’s retail Fashion (40% buy online), Shoes and accessories (34% buy online), Health related products and subscriptions (25% buy online) and Household appliances (23% buy online).
For Hardware/DIY/Home Improvement products, offline share has increased from 33% to 43% as shops reopened on week 19. This indicates people’s preference to buy this category in-store when possible.
In store purchase is especially significant for retail food, sweets and snacks and beverages, with more than 60% buying offline.
89% of Belgians stated that price and quality are very important criteria when buying products.
Due to the current situation caused by the pandemic where most activities are no longer allowed or limited, purchases have become one of the main focus (groceries, shoes and accessories, retail fashion, household appliances). As people have more time to invest in the buying decision, they tend to analyse more factors.
Regional products that were strongly pushed in the beginning of April (61%) remain a strong trend but lost some importance by the end of May (59%).
63% believe that service and consultation are important elements, which gained importance in May compared to April (+3.8p.p).
In the current consumption situation, people pay particular attention to purchase criteria that provide them with the usual security and continuity. This increases expectations of quality and more attention is paid to the price.
For most Belgians, brand is the least important attribute during a their purchasing decision.
The demand for a higher consideration on consumers’ needs remains a strong claim throughout the six weeks of isolation measures. Trust in the economy and in media channels has deteriorated but overall most Belgians are confident with the product and information supply.
75% believe that brands do not take their needs into account in a satisfactory level and this perception has not improved over the past weeks, which means they still demand that brands initiate some change.
60% perceive advertisement as acceptable in the current situation and 50% of the Belgian population would like to continue to be informed about brands, products and offers digitally.
As the weeks go by in isolation, 69% still trust the economy to provide all necessary products. Trust in media channels for information also dropped by 7.5p.p, with 69% trusting them now compared to 77% initially.
Strong and traditional brands are favored by 51% of Belgians.
More than 45% of Belgians still declare that their consumption of TV news has increased due to the current isolation measures. However, the big raise in usage of media such as TV news, online news, online search machines, Facebook, video chats and streaming seen in the beginning of April has slightly lost strength. The usage of computer games and console games was also higher in weeks 15-16 and decreased in weeks 21-22.
Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat and Tiktok remained stable throughout the past eight weeks.
On one side, most Belgians are stagnating due to the uncertainty. On the personal level, they are waiting to see how the events will develop, and hesitating to make plans for the future.
On the other hand, brands should not stand still. It is more important than ever to stay present, keep in touch and have an active role. There is great opportunity to engage with consumers on multiple touchpoints and benefit from higher media consumption. The consumers’ demand for a higher consideration of their needs shows the importance of a more relevant engagement with them.
Consumers want brands to be responsive to their needs and want to see more social involvement. It‘s time to create latent brand equity with corporate social responsibility instead of remaining neutral to the current situation.
That’s it, we’ve presented all the results of our two-months long Corona Tracking. Thank you for having accompanied us every week.
If you want to know how exactly your brand’s consumers’ purchase behaviour has changed and what you have to do to adapt to their needs efficiently and ensure the survival of your brand through these complicated times,contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll gladly set up a date at your best convenience to host a workshop for you and your team, in full compliance of the security measures of course.