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Tracking the impact of COVID-19 on FMCG, retail and media

Posted by Nielsen

As the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) sweeps the world, consumers are being forced to dramatically change their purchase behaviors. Nielsen is tracking these changes and establishing clear navigation beacons for companies trying to understand the changes and plan for what comes next.

A Nielsen investigation has identified six key consumer behavior threshold levels that tie directly to concerns around the COVID-19 outbreak. The thresholds offer early signals of spending patterns, particularly for emergency pantry items and health supplies, and we are seeing these patterns being mirrored across multiple markets.

We’re monitoring these patterns closely, as they are still evolving. However, when reviewed across currently impacted countries, they can help provide a set of leading indicators for packaged goods manufacturers and retailers faced with supply issues as they race to meet record levels of demand and changing purchase habits.


Threshold levels 1-4 are beginning to show predictable signs of spending from consumers. To help markets understand what’s to come as they enter later thresholds, we’ve spotlighted several markets to showcase the key trends that have defined purchasing behaviors in the later thresholds levels as businesses look for guidance on what is likely to happen.

“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.”-SCOTT MCKENZIE, NIELSEN’S GLOBAL INTELLIGENCE LEADER


While many markets are still in the middle of this global pandemic, there are some early signs that our consumer habits will be forever changed by COVID-19. Three critical accelerators intersect with the six consumer thresholds and will fast track long-term behavioral shifts. We’ve identified a few ways businesses can prepare for shifting consumer demands as markets move through the six thresholds.


Throughout the thresholds, consumers will be seeking greater assurance that the products they buy are free of risk and of the highest quality when it comes to safety standards and efficacy, particularly with respect to cleaning products, antiseptics and food items. In the short term, this intensified demand from consumers will require manufacturers, retailers and other related industry players to clearly communicate why their products and supply chains should be trusted. In the longer term, and dependent on the eventual scale and impact that COVID-19 has on consumer markets, it may speed up a re-think on how shoppers evaluate purchases and the benefits that they see as the key factors to consider. TVJ Bureau

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