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Understanding Consumer Behavior During COVID-19

PurchaseLoop Research Insight Study March 2020

By Ryoji Iwata via Unsplash

Introduction

While the events of COVID-19 have been transforming the world, LoopMe has been staying on top of consumer sentiment. By using our proprietary PurchaseLoop Research platform, LoopMe (one of our portfolio companies) surveyed 8,000 people within the LoopMe audience pool across 8 global markets for the week ending March 27, 2020.

We then analyzed that global sentiment data against our DMP across 320 dimensions of data produce — insights that are shaping our new ecosystem.

In this report, you’ll find the key findings from those cross-sections to help you understand consumer sentiment today within an ever-changing landscape.

The four areas of sentiment explored by the PurchaseLoop Research survey are the following:

  • Media consumption index — What kind of media are you consuming most of the week?
  • Buying index — thinking about your total purchases this week, how did your spending compare to last week?
  • Aspirational index — what do you aspire to do when the COVID-19 crisis is over?
  • Outlook index — what is your current outlook around COVID-19?

LoopMe data analysis

In addition to the market research surveys, we took a look at the data within the LoopMe DMP to reveal the growth in consumer behavior with devices now that most areas have adopted a stay at home restriction.

Over the last two weeks of March, LoopMe’s audience platform has grown significantly as more people are increasing their screen usage and TV consumption. We are seeing more global scale, more activity, and more net new profiles to reach. Furthermore, we’ve seen a decrease in devices that are leaving our audience platform, showing consistency in increased reach figures.

  • LoopMe has seen a 9% increase in reach, showing an increased total scale of 2.4B devices.
  • LoopMe has seen an 11% increase in reach against active devices, which are devices we’ve seen at least twice in 30 days. This shows that not only the reach is increasing, but it’s increasing against actively targetable devices.
  • LoopMe has seen a 20% increase in net new devices (over 114M), showing a more unique scale.
  • LoopMe has seen dormant devices decrease by 16%, which are devices we don’t see for 30–60 days. This points to sustainable growth of net new and current devices.

Media Consumption Index

LoopMe asked respondents what type of media they were consuming the most this week: Gaming, News/Social Media, Movies, TV Shows, or Reading. We looked at this data holistically by age, and by country, to help us understand any changing trends in media consumption, both home and abroad, across various demographic sets.

Not surprisingly, News/Social Media is the highest channel media consumed. Looking at News/Social Media is the highest channel of media consumed. Looking at News/Social consumption by country, Singapore (38%) topped the list and France (20%) rounded out the list, though all geographies showed this as a top form of media consumption.

Additional expected media consumption trends present themselves, with Gaming and TV Shows indexing high globally. While reading popped most with older demographics, it did index as the lowest preferred media vertical globally. This supports the pre-COVID-19 trend of increased time in front of screens.

At LoopMe, we’re expecting the current media trends to continue to see growth, such as increased video viewing & gaming engagement, rather than disruption among consumer media consumption patterns, but we’ll keep an eye on this as the weeks roll on.

Buying Index

LoopMe asked respondents how their total purchases for this week compared to last week to understand their buying sentiments. The possible responses were more, less, or the same. Regardless of country, age or gender, one trend loomed over the rest: overall spending is down.

Where certain sectors like CPG/FMCG/OTC-Pharma and other daily-life essentials are flying off the shelves, general spending is down. Discretionary spending isn’t a priority for most of the globe, mirrored by dipping financial markets, store closings, unemployment rising, and possible pending economic recession. We haven’t seen any areas where people reported spending more week over week.

Brands that work with LoopMe are noticing the same trends, and are acting on it. We're seeing brands mirror these consumer trends across our platform, shifting from product-based messaging to brand-based awareness campaigns. KPI’s are shifting from in-store foot traffic and towards attitudinal metrics.

As seen throughout past economic downturns, maintaining brand awareness while consumer spending is down has been proven successful for brands in driving performance when spending picks back up. We encourage clients to engages with our team about attitudinal goals that can help elevate your brand from the noise during this unprecedented time.

Aspirational Index

LoopMe wanted to know what our respondents were aspiring to do after the events of COVID-19 resolve and we re-emerge back into society as we had before. Response options included purchases of high (car, house, etc.) or medium value (phone, television, etc.), returning to socializing outdoors, travel, or not to change the lifestyle they knew a few months back.

Overwhelmingly and surprisingly, across most markets the top choices include:

  • Return back to their lifestyle: United States survey respondents (50%) topped the list for this option.
  • Spend more time socializing outdoors: Italy (52%) and France (49%) topped the list for this option.

The more notable insights we uncovered here include the global aspirations around travel and buying behavior.

Globally, all respondents aspire to travel ahead of making a purchase. Wanderlust is setting in as people are in lockdown.

The UK, US, and Canada were the most conservative in terms of aspirational buying intent compared to EMEA and APAC.

APAC regions surveyed have the highest aspiration to travel and buy medium and large ticket items.

Outlook Index

LoopMe wanted to not just include media consumption and purchase behaviors in this study, but also look at the psyche of our global respondents to see how optimistic they felt around the globe. Depending on their current phase in the COVID-19 pandemic will help uncover how sentiment is changing as various parts of the world are impacted. Through basic responses of Good, Bad, Neutral Opinion, we uncovered the following insights around that topic.

While globally the unanimous outlook was pessimistic, some countries with early prevention measures and strong political measures have shown more optimism than others. For example, Germany had a higher positive response than a negative one.

Comparatively, the US, UK, Canada, Singapore, and France all showed +20% difference favoring a negative outlook.

Hong Kong was a focal point of the virus spread but now shows under 50% of respondents with a negative outlook. Conversely, Singapore has become more recently affected and is showing 8% points higher in negative response rates. This could point to people returning to confidence after weathering the anticipated worst of the storm. To further illustrate this trend, US, Canada, France, Singapore, and UK are also leading the way in a negative outlook as the pandemic has reached their shores ate later dates. All are above 50% in a negative outlook. Those countries that are under 50% in negative outlook are Germany, Italy and Hong Kong.

In Conclusion

Media Consumption is Now a Cross-Screen World

Now more than ever media is being consumed in households at staggering rates. News, social media and gaming are on the rise, with device usage growing.

The ‘Stay At Home’ mandate is forcing businesses and consumers’ lives to adapt to an always-connected, virtual, online world. Marketers need to shift messaging to adapt to this new reality.

There is a great opportunity to learn more about consumers in the home like never before and smart brands will tap into the audience insights now.

Purchasing Behavior is a Now an Uncharted Course

Yesterday’s purchasing behavior doesn’t matter in our new reality. While overall spending is down, how and what consumers are looking to buy –– or what they are able to obtain –– changes by market and by day.

Real-time data is critical to understand audiences buying intent and current purchase data.

Outlook and Aspirational Goals Vary by Market

In countries that have better control around COVID-19, we have seen more positive outlooks from consumers –– as we’ve seen in Germany –– whereas in countries or regions where the surge is coming sentiment was less positive.

Marketers have an opportunity to lean into purpose-driven messaging to calm uncertainty among their consumers. Authenticity will help maintain relationships with their consumers.

Additionally, while the travel industry saw an immediate impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, our survey reveals that aspirationally, consumers would like to travel as soon as they can, providing an important indicator for this vertical.

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