April 14, 2020

The impact of COVID-19


The impact of COVID-19

As COVID-19 spreads its fear with no discrimination across industry or individual, companies have had to adapt to the changing habits and behaviours of their consumers. Some have been quick and agile, while others continue to struggle with cash flow issues, possible downsizing and customer experience as they transition to online solutions. In this article we share some key insights from industry leaders both locally and globally on just how the business landscape is shifting, and the mindset required to navigate through these tough times ahead.

Nielsen, widely recognised as leaders in tracking consumer behaviour and industry trends, were quick to start tracking the impact of COVID-19 on sectors such as FMCG, Media and Retail. Nicola Voice, Director - Retailer Services & Analytics, Nielsen New Zealand has eloquently stated:

In the five weeks to 29 March 2020, Kiwis have spent an additional $396M on groceries purchased from New Zealand's Supermarkets - that's over 29% more dollars spent on groceries than the same time last year. In the week that we went into lockdown (ending 22 March 2020), Kiwis spent $458M on supermarket groceries - that's higher than the week leading up to Christmas ($363M spent for week ending 22 December 2019).

The company has published a localised piece on the four ways New Zealand manufacturers can adapt to new purchasing patterns such as Ready Supply Chains; Leveraging Technology; Emphasising Quality and Efficacy and Being Transparent about Local Origins.

At a global level Scott McKenzie, Nielsen’s Global Intelligence Leader is quoted as saying:

As patterns begin to emerge in response to news events of this nature, it will be imperative for companies to learn from these scenarios so they can sustain growth even in times where COVID-19 has uprooted people’s lives. These patterns will help provide leading and trailing indicators to those trying to understand how people will respond as developments continue to play out at different times in different countries.

Through their global studies, Nielsen has identified six key categories of consumer behaviour thresholds as outlined in Table 1 below. These tie directly to concerns around the COVID-19 outbreak. Nielsen claims that these patterns are mirrored across multiple markets and will help to offer early signals of spending patterns, especially for emergency pantry items and health supplies.

Table 1. Key Consumer Behaviour Thresholds
Adapted from here. Copyright 2020 by The Nielsen Company.

More in-depth understanding around these behaviours and categories can be found here.

Closer to home, the Mi9 team spoke to the Editor of StopPress, Courtney Devereux for her thoughts on how COVID-19 is impacting the Media industry. She had the following to say.

“We’re lucky that our media industry is quick to adapt to change. Even in the face of a pandemic and countless hours working from sometimes less than ideal home setups the determination to keep going to the best of its abilities has been admirable”. Devereux also went on to state that there is a level of comradery in media when everyone is affected, however there will be permanent consequences created by the lockdown and how we operate moving forward.

“The problems we see won’t come from the content produced but about how the human connection can be sustained in teams now forced to work on a solely digital basis. Over the next few months the biggest challenge is how we can stay connected in a time of isolation.”

Devereux also feels that the media landscape will stay solid as long as teams do, and now more than ever compassion and empathy needs to be demonstrated to teams and audiences, by those running operations. Her closing sentiment is that “perhaps what we’ll see is a new breed of working, a new confidence from each individual about their abilities. Yet from our point of view, as long as we remain connected with ourselves, our teams and our audience, the media landscape will get through mostly unaffected once things settle back into the ‘old-normal.”

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