COVID and the consumer

It sounds a bit like Beauty and the Beast, however, there’s no happy ending where you make out with a prince. Talking candlesticks and sourdough starters, for sure. A recent report from Mintel explored the impact that COVID-19 is likely to have on the out-of-home leisure industry, which includes restaurants, casinos, gyms, cinemas, and my employer’s unique position in music entertainment.

“COVID-19 will inflict severe damage to the out-of-home leisure industry over the next few years, whilst sectors that were already struggling, such as nightclubs, may never fully recover. However, the crisis will also prove to be the catalyst for the launch and development of more digital services that allow consumers to replicate out-of-home experiences in the comfort and safety of their own homes.

Crucially, the underlying consumer trend towards valuing experiences over possessions means that the sector will eventually regain lost ground, even if the brands and the formats are very different to the pre-COVID world.”

–    Paul Davies, Category Director – Leisure, Foodservice, Travel and B2B Research – 24 June 2020

Having read the report, here’s a TLDR;

  • Estimated severe impact on the sector in the medium term (6 to 24 months), with a medium impact in the next 2 to 5 years
  • Consumer anxiety levels align with case curve (so currently diminishing in the UK, rising in the US)
  • Gyms may not recover as alternate fitness routines continue
  • Consumer confidence in their financial situation over the next year? 50% within the UK are concerned but think it’ll be ok, and 30% confident it will remain stable
  • Boutique is best, and differentiation is better than discounting

As with everything right now, let’s wait and see how this pans out.

Bonus reading: on losing the American desire to shop — I Don’t Feel Like Buying Stuff Anymore, via BuzzFeed.


Focus groups

A short video (less than five minutes) on how the focus group came to be. Focus groups have remained largely the same for decades, but how will they be affected by the new ‘low-touch’ economy? I’ve been running several user interviews via video-call, but a group of strangers… Not yet but entirely possible.


The big question

I started my first weekly program in Consumer Psychology this week, and I’m planning on using this space to make notes, jot down musings, and integrate with my existing work.

What exactly is consumer psychology?

Understanding the behaviour of consumers and how it relates to the decisions they make, both big and small.

Looking at the research, consumer psychology addresses an array of subjects. Some of the more popular areas include decision-making, consumer judgement, perception and attention, information processing, motivational determinants of consumer behaviour, attitude formation and change, and influences of advertising upon consumer responses (Jansson-Boyd, 201o).

There’s also something to be said about how consumption makes them feel — we live in a world where signposting who you are as a person seems to be primarily through purchases.

The other day a friend and I discussed whether the vast majority of people would still certain purchase goods and services if they couldn’t tell anyone. Nobody knows the brand or the value. For instance, like Wiley, you buy and wear a Rolex. However, you’re not allowed to tell anyone, write a hit about it, or Instagram it. Would you still want one?

This thought-experiment is particularly interesting in the ‘age of the influencer’, which has been impacted by COVID-19. Who are you, and what is your brand if you can’t consume?

Influencers are supposed to be aspirational; they are supposed to be in places we want to be, in clothes we want to wear, doing things we want to do. Without that so-called “FOMO,” it’s hard to see what need they really serve.

Coronavirus Could Finally Pop the Influencer Bubble, Vice

In 2003, Kasser & Kanner said there is no way of escaping the fact that consumption is a part of humans’ everyday lives, but times, they are-a-changing. Watch this space.