The impact of Coronavirus: 9 key consumer trends

The last few weeks have seen increasingly strong measures to restrict the spread of coronavirus and safeguard the NHS.

Right now, there are approximately 778,000 people infected by coronavirus worldwide and 22,000 infected in the UK. We’re at over 1,400 deaths in the UK and counting, though there have been some signs of this number declining day on day, which is (somewhat) heartening to see. There’s no understating the global impact of this pandemic, and its impact on consumer behaviour.

We ran four surveys over the last week (three on March 26th and one on March 30th) to understand the general response to COVID-19, how it’s impacting people’s perception of brands and the government, as well as how it’s impacting their financial security and livelihood.

Here are the key takeaways from our research:

Anxiety levels have plateaued in the UK

Both awareness and anxiety levels have changed in the UK this week – almost every member of the public is now aware of the virus, and anxiety levels appeared to have reached a plateau. You can see how media consumption influenced anxiety levels in our previous blog.

Coronavirus consumer trends 2020
As compared with data from mid-March, 2020.

Interestingly, women appear to be more stressed out by the virus than men – they reported much higher levels of anxiety than their male counterparts.

There is still confusion around quarantine, self-isolation, and how people should behave in the UK

It’s no secret that there’s been some mixed-messaging around what we can and can’t do – partially due to the speedy-shifting nature of the virus itself. Office workers are pretty unsure what they should be doing – 9.7% believe they should carry on going to work as normal if they don’t have any symptoms of the virus, though we know this is against government advice.

People are also unclear about isolation periods and the time required for isolation – 11.7% believe they should be staying at home for 7 days if a member of their household has a cough, when in actuality it should be 14 days based on government advice. The same goes for people with a member of their household experiencing a fever – while 9.8% believe they should be staying indoors for 7 days, the government advice is that it should be for 14 days.

Coronavirus consumer trends 2020
Survey conducted on March 26, 2020.

People are most concerned about their parents or grandparents catching coronavirus

One thing’s for certain – people are experiencing a whole spectrum of emotions right now. While they’re less concerned about workplace closures and running out of food and household supplies than they might have been a couple of weeks ago, we’re seeing an increase in people concerned about their older family members catching the virus.

There does appear to be some light at the end of the tunnel, though; there’s some level of optimism or hope when it comes to workplace closures and running out of food or household supplies.

Coronavirus consumer trends 2020
Survey conducted on March 26, 2020.

The majority of respondents think the government has taken appropriate measures with regards to coronavirus

58% of respondents are happy with the measures taken by the government – this is up from approx. 30% of respondents two weeks ago. However,  a significant minority still don’t think the government response suffices (30.6%). 

Respondents in London are much more likely to say that they thought the measures were not strict enough.

Very few people are *not* social distancing

Only 7% are currently going out as normal, or are going out more than normal. But for those that aren’t social distancing, they appear to either not know how to appropriately social distance, or they don’t believe they need to.

Coronavirus consumer trends 2020

This group consistently failed to identify most of the suggested measures for social distancing, with the exception of those who identified themselves as key workers.  

The group that is not social distancing is also the group who tend to think that the government response was over the top, or didn’t understand it.

Outside of being a key worker, the main reason people are not social distancing is because they hate being alone

A third of people who were not social distancing identified themselves as key workers. 17% said they just hated being alone, followed by it being too inconvenient.

Coronavirus consumer trends 2020

This group was also the most reluctant to perform their own swabs at home if it became available. 

The way a brand responds to the virus impacts quite heavily on brand perception

Coronavirus consumer trends 2020
Survey conducted on March 26, 2020.

Perhaps not surprisingly, people have rallied around the NHS at this time, with over 60% of respondents saying they love the NHS even more than prior to the virus outbreak.

Communication tools like Facetime and WhatsApp are getting more popular – quite possibly because they’re using these tools to connect with their friends and loved ones. The same goes for Netflix and Amazon, keeping people engaged while they’re at home.
Dyson – who is trying to manufacture a high number of ventilators for the NHS – has seen their likeability go up since announcing this initiative.

Sports Direct and Wetherspoons might be in serious trouble

Coronavirus consumer trends 2020
Survey conducted on March 26, 2020.

Sports Direct and Wetherspoons aren’t feeling the love; a large percentage of our brand perception survey sample say they ‘don’t really like [these brands] now’ – most likely due to the negative press they’ve received because of their response to coronavirus.

The Virgin brands have also taken a hit here, as well as the Daily Mail – it’d be interesting to dive further into why this might be.

Only 50% of respondents have seen their jobs remain the same since the crisis

Coronavirus consumer trends 2020
Survey conducted on March 30, 2020.

Other than the obvious health impacts of the coronavirus, the financial impact of this pandemic is laid bare in the above statistics. 35.7% of respondents have lost their job entirely, 14.3% have had a pay cut, 6.1% have been furloughed, and 5.1% have had a wage freeze, among other things.

Financial anxiety is at an all time high in the UK

Coronavirus consumer trends 2020
Survey conducted on March 30, 2020.

38.2% of respondents are actively saving more money than they were before the pandemic, with only 13.3% of respondents not thinking about saving (it’s worth noting that these people weren’t saving prior to the outbreak anyways).

Coronavirus consumer trends 2020
Survey conducted on March 30, 2020.

A lot of people are already worried about making ends meet, with the highest pockets of anxiety being around dipping into savings (22.7%), losing a job or livelihood (21.3%), and finding a new job (19.6%). 

When comparing the demographics on our survey,  we see that things like paying rent and food are more of an issue for Londoners. And understandably, older people were worried about their investments and pension pots.

Interested in understanding how the coronavirus has impacted and will impact your business? Things are changing at lightning speed and we’d love to help – get going right now.

Attest surveys referenced:

26/3: Your thoughts on a few orgs and brands:

26/3: Home habits: 

26/3: Public health survey: 

30/3: Public health survey and financial impact:


Content Team 

Our in-house marketing team is always scouring the market for the next big thing. This piece has been lovingly crafted by one of our team members. Attest's platform makes gathering consumer data as simple and actionable as possible.

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