Pandemic Habits - After the initial panic buying, Australians now seek value

Chris Pash
By Chris Pash | 22 May 2020

Australians, after an initial rush to fill the pantry, now seek homegrown products offering value as they emerge from lockdown.

Two-thirds are now paying closer attention to pricing and to Australian made goods, according to the latest domestic Kantar COVID-19 Barometer survey conducted April 23-28.

James Brown, Kantar Australia’s head of retail and shopper, says Australians are cautious and driven by economic anxiety.

Supporting local business was always important but was heightened during the bushfire crisis and this in turn has amplified a move to local sustainability, says Brown.

Two-thirds (67%) now favour buying locally-produced goods and services with 43% paying more attention to product origin, a 7% increase in sentiment from the end of March.

Provenance is even more important to households with children with half (49%) now buying products of homegrown origin.

“This sentiment extends to manufacturing,” says Brown.

One-third (36%) want brands to consider domestic production capabilities, while a quarter are worried about the safety risk from products shipped from abroad.

Despite 46% of households experiencing a fall in income during the last month, just 18% expect it to be impacted in the future – a significant drop from 28% a fortnight ago.

This increased confidence is likely due to the anticipation of life beyond lockdown and re-opening of more businesses, but six in ten are expecting a slow recovery (up from 54% a month ago).

“This places the value on price as more important than ever,” says Brown.

Two-thirds (64%) are paying more attention to prices now, up from 55% in March.

Brown says this means brands must be sharply focused on the likely extended period of value-consciousness driven by economic anxiety and concerns of a second outbreak.

Pricing, promotional and value-add strategies are critical to brand competitiveness.

Ensuring the supply of products or services is now the biggest Australian consumer expectation of brands after protecting employees and securing supply lines, says Brown.

Two-thirds (67%) are very or somewhat concerned about a second outbreak reintroducing lockdowns and half (48%) expect brands to have plans to protect their supply chains.

"We will see a new wave of digital shoppers emerge," says Brown.

Half of 18-24-year-olds plan to increase their post-pandemic online purchasing.

And online value is important. Half (53%) are driven by better offers and prices, rising to 65% for those aged 25-34.

And 47% are driven by time efficiencies – even more important for 6 in 10 of those people aged 35-44. One in three also say they will continue to buy from the online stores they first visited during the crisis.

“Every brand scaling their eCommerce channels will need to ensure their online customer experience, including sustainability credentials, supports their brand,” says Brown.

“The customer experience is key for brands hoping to capitalise on this digital surge with one in three online shoppers finding the experience less satisfying than visiting a physical store.

"Value-add strategies will be fundamental to addressing economic anxiety while brands must place a priority on addressing provenance. Made in Australia is a powerful message that will resonate effectively for a long time to come."

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