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Consumer concerns impacting consumption

23 April 2020

Key points:

  • Australian consumers express a high level of concern, in particular towards the economy and personal health
  • consumers increasingly focused on the home and local community
  • food and cooking information increasingly sought.

Consumers have a high level of concern

As the impact of COVID-19 continues to unfold, this environment has led to a lot of uncertainty amongst consumers across Australia at this time. Whether concerned over their personal health, job security and personal finances - all these concerns are prompting a shift in consumer sentiment and behaviour.

1 in 3 Australians feel that ‘The situation concerns me hugely’, with overall concern increasing across the globe as the situation unfolds. Whilst the threat of illness continues to increase, concerns about our financial security and the impact on the economy have also become central amongst Australian consumers. These concerns are also experienced by consumers across the globe.

Many Australians are expecting to feel the impact of the crisis on their household income. Almost half of all Australian consumers already feel their household income has been impacted, while many more expect to be impacted in the future. Families with children are more likely to feel their household income has been affected.

Consumers increasingly focused on the home and local community 

As restrictions take hold, consumers are shifting their focus on their home environment and local community. There has been a notable shift towards ‘localism’ across the globe, as consumers spend more time at home and within their local community. This has been observed in a range initiatives such as the well-publicised communities in lockdown in Italy who have taken to singing from their balconies, through to the weekly ‘Clap for carers’ initiative in the UK where households stand outside their homes and clap in order to express their support for key workers in the NHS.

This shift to localism is also starting to be observed in Australia, as 1 in 5 consumers buying more food or drinks from local businesses, because they are nearer to their home and to support local businesses during the pandemic (Play Market Research).

As consumers spend more time at home, early indications show that consumers are seeking more information on food and cooking.  Nielsen data showed that on the last weekend of March, Australians spent 71% more time looking at food and cooking content online compared to the month prior. While the impact on cooking and consumption is unfolding, there are early indications consumers are cooking more at home, with 60% turning to their pantry staple ingredients (PlayMR). With increasing pressure on household budgets, some consumers are having to make these staple items stretch further in their meal preparation. In addition, with beef mince and beef sausages leading contributors to the recent surging fresh meat sales, it is clear that easy, quick prepare meals remain just as important to consumers at this time.

Aussies cautiously optimistic about the future

While Aussies remain concerned about the unfolding situation, at the same time, the resilient ‘Aussie Battler’ mindset shines through. Australians are cautiously optimistic for the future, with 7 in 10 Australians agreeing that we will get through the current situation and be stronger because of it (Nature Research / The Lab).

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, consumer sentiment and behaviour will continue to evolve with it. This changing environment will continue to put pressures on consumers as it challenges their beliefs and current way of life.

© Meat & Livestock Australia Limited, 2020