What will the implications for 2021 be with covid-19 still in play?

A data-based report on consumers’ mood swings and how businesses can position themselves

PRELIMINARY REMARKS

Reply leverages Data and Analytics to gain insight into the impact of the novel coronavirus on society, consumers and industries. Using the Quentin Search Data tool developed by TD Reply, which aggregates data from Google Trends and Google Ads, this report focuses on how COVID-19 impacted the social and economic context in EU countries in 2020.

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This report is in no way intended to distract from the fact that the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus is primarily a human tragedy affecting hundreds of thousands of people.

As the situation evolves rapidly, please note that this page reflects the data collected up until 15 January 2021.

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A pendulum of mood swings

COVID-19 has triggered unprecedented change and disruption in the European social and economic context. Throughout 2020, the Europeans have witnessed their mood swinging between extremes – for example fear and optimism or action and exhaustion – like the movement of a swinging pendulum. Triggers are new developments like vaccines, digital connectivity innovations, government (in)action and social movements. The flow between “normality” and “new-normality” – moving in and out of lockdowns – has provided a new rhythm to life that will likely remain well into 2021.

The new normal in 2021 tension framework

Understanding how the consumer marketplace reacted to COVID-19 along these tensions could point out the new normal in 2021.

How consumers find the right balance during lockdowns

How consumers handle their financial affairs, while COVID-19 makes predictions challenging

How consumers redefine their ideas of trust amid a global health crisis

Where consumers settle in during rapid digitisation

European consumers are trying to find a balance between productivity and free time

TENSION 1

Moving in and out of lockdowns is forcing individuals to re-evaluate how they spend their free time. At first, Europeans showed resilience, focusing on new activities. As the turbulent situations endured, however, without clear lines between free time and work, people grew exhausted and searched for new ways to maintaining their wellness.

New skills first boomed then dropped

‘Cooking’ index annual variation

‘Online Education’ index annual variation

Cooking and education have been major trends of home activities in 2020. Will they maintain momentum?

HOME FITNESS BOOM

Home fitness indexes overall annual variation

In 2021 people will get even more interested in personal fitness – we all want to be healthier.

Mental Health became increasingly important

‘Meditation’ index annual variation

‘Mental Health’ index annual variation

Being able to shut out from the daily routine will become a new norm in 2021.

Data retrieved from Quentin, TD Reply’s Search Data tool, across 5 countries (DE, ES, IT, FR and UK). Jan-Dec, 2020 vs 2021.

Highlights of Country-Specific Findings

Consumers in different countries are sensitive to distinct messaging regarding their daily balance. In Germany, Mental Health as an overarching issue is of extraordinary interest. While in the UK, consumers pay extra attention to meditation. Meanwhile, Italian interest in fitness is above the average.

The way European consumers handle their finances swings from saving to spending

TENSION 2

After the first hit of the pandemic, Europeans increased donations and spendings on short-term home decorations. Eventually, this shifted towards a hands-on approach in money management (Hedge Funds) and more significant home improvement spendings.

Simpler Decorations became bigger home improvements

‘Decorations’ index annual variation

‘Home Improvements’ index annual variation

Home improvements can reach a limit. As next step, real estate markets may benefit from the need of a bigger houses.

When Solidarity was high, donations peaked

‘Donations’ index annual variation

Community wellbeing has been a theme of 2020, but, when only segments of society get the vaccine, new forms of inequality will arise?

Passive Investing shifted to active investing

‘ETFs’ index annual variation

‘Hedge Funds’ index annual variation

Consumers will continue to pay close attention to their finances in 2021.

Data retrieved from Quentin, TD Reply’s Search Data tool, across 5 countries (DE, ES, IT, FR and UK). Jan-Dec, 2020 vs 2021.

Highlights of Country-Specific Findings

While the overall European trend is a growth in money investment forms (e.g., ETFs and hedge funds), UK consumers are moving against it and are not susceptible to hedge fund offerings. Donations grew throughout the markets, but, Italians in particular, were and are still very open to spending money for solidary purposes.

Europeans' trust in the information about Covid-19 diminishes as doubts continue to spread

TENSION 3

When the news of COVID-19 broke out in Europe, the reality that life would be disrupted came as such an extreme shock, and many started to question the validity of the situation. With news about COVID-19 becoming mainstream, attention for different conspiracies grew. The most popular conspiracy theory at the beginning of the crisis was about 5G technology.

Covid-19 Conspiracy theories spiking all year round

The flood of alternate viewpoints will continue to make it difficult for brands to communicate with clarity through 2021.

Attention to COVID-19 Fake News dropped in the summer

Interest on COVID-19 as a conspiracy dropped in times correlated with ‘Near-Normal”. Trust will be key across 2021.

COVID-19 News interest started global and became local

2021 may continue to show trends of Europeans putting Europe first.

Data retrieved from Quentin, TD Reply’s Search Data tool, across 5 countries (DE, ES, IT, FR and UK). Jan-Dec, 2020 vs 2021.

Highlights of Country-Specific Findings

Searches for the terms ‘COVID-fake’ and ‘COVID conspiracy’, in their respective local languages, peaked in different countries at different times. Germans seemed to question the pandemic right from the start, while Italy and the UK reached their highs of COVID-19 doubts later in the year.

Despite going increasingly digital, European consumers miss real-life connections

TENSION 4

When everything is rapidly digitizing, are European consumers getting lost in the cloud? Consumers have been forced to digitize like never before - working online, having Zoom weddings and doing online shopping. But real-life connections stayed a strong need. Searches for terms that involve dating and physical contact (i.e., massage) grew generally throughout the length of the pandemic.

Digital Entertainment goes up with every lockdown

‘Online Parties’ index annual variation

‘Video Games’ index annual variation

Digital entertainment is here to stay. But consumer interest is more likely correlated with a necessity than a real demand.

Dating and Physical connection BECAME A MASSIVE NEED

‘Massage’ index annual variation

‘Dating’ index annual variation

While digitization is expanding, it will not replace the need human connection in 2021.

ONLINe Shopping increased with lockdown measures

‘Online Food’ index annual variation

‘Online Alcohol’ index annual variation

Consumers are still actively seeking new ways to purchase items online. Businesses ready to meet digital expectations will win in 2021.

Data retrieved from Quentin, TD Reply’s Search Data tool, across 5 countries (DE, ES, IT, FR and UK). Jan-Dec, 2020 vs 2021.

Highlights of Country-Specific Findings

European consumers in different countries prefer diverse online services. Compared to the European average, online events (such as online parties) are much requested in the UK. Italians are very interested in shopping for alcohol online. In Germany, the market for video games is growing less enthusiastically than in the rest of Europe.

GETTING PREPARED FOR 2021

Consistent Communication

With vaccination as one major aspect in 2021, consumers will continue to question any information they receive.

Businesses will have a hard time earning and keeping the trust of customers – and should be careful on how they communicate to the outside. Brand purposes and missions will need to be consistent and credible.

Hybrid Shopping

Pandemic containment measures are likely to continue far into the year. People will continue shopping online shopping. At the same time, they will be looking for real-world connections and outcomes.

Businesses shall maintain their attention to online shops – and find a way to give consumers real life, as well as human components.

Flexible and individual financing

Economic impacts will be different throughout Europe, but all the same, money will stay a tension field. People will go on focusing their spending on long-term home improvements and active investments.

Businesses could focus on financing models that reflect the need of keeping control over personal money flows.

Mental Health and work-life balance

Lockdown measures will probably continue to keep on changing. Therefore, consumers are likely to focus even more on work-life balance and mental health.

Businesses will have to acknowledge these needs, not only for consumers but also for their own teams. Addressing mental health issues is a big opportunity to gain consumer attention.