May 23, 2020

New Study Highlights the Impact of COVID-19 on Consumer Sentiment and Social Media Conversations

Brandwatch recently released the results of a global COVID-19 consumer insights study which measured the impact of the coronavirus on consumer behavior and sentiment in general and on social media in Asia, North America, and Europe. The study was conducted during March using consumer surveys and online monitoring of social media, blogs, review sites and other platforms.

Here are the key takeaways for businesses that want to understand how the coronavirus is influencing the mindset of consumers and current market trends:

Brands extending empathy win brownie points

  • Brands that provided complimentary or discounted services to consumers in response to the COVID-19 virus won kudos. Whether this increase in positive brand sentiment will continue post-pandemic is a metric to monitor.
  • In particular, financial service insitutions offerring grace periods and payment deferrals were highly praised on social media.
  • Technology and software providers offering incentives or reduced fees were also deemed as good corporate citizens across the globe.

Consumers adapt behavior to cope with COVID-19

  • Individuals watched content on the coronavirus and pandemics on Netflix for information.
  • Curated playlists for background noise at home were popular.
  • Digital libraries and other free online media sources were important topics of conversation on social media.
  • Mobile phones were the device of choice for consumers to connect with family, friends and workplaces.
  • Working out and exercising at home were popular activities reported by survey respondents.
  • Consumers in the 18-34 year-old age group were more likely to report trying a new hobby to keep themselves entertained.
  • 25% of those surveyed reported eating more during their time at home.

COVID-19 takes a toll on consumers’ emotional and psychological health

  • Worry about health and the investment market were, not surprisingly, key topics of conversation on social media during the latter part of March.
  • Fear, anger and sadness were pervasive themes of social media conversations and content following the implementation of social distancing and rise in coronavirus cases around the globe.
  • Fear and sadness were mentioned in 70% of social media conversations about mental health.
  • One-third of survey respondents feared losing their jobs.

Physical health and entertainment ideas were popular social media conversation topics

  • At home fitness and workouts.
  • Diet and fitness in general.
  • Social distancing
  • Feeling isolated
  • How to refrain from being bored
  • How to shop safely
  • Working from home/remote working
  • How to manage spending increased time at home

Gender-specific insights: men are gaming, women are reading

  • Overall, male respondents reported that they were more likely to play video games in the coming month (30% of men surveyed said they planned to play video games).
  • Women said they planned on reading more.
  • Women (48%) were more likely than men (40%) to report having trouble feeling motivated and being entertained.
  • Mothers working at home expressed the highest level of concern about working from home.

Employees affected by the COVID-19 pandemic elicited concern from consumers

  • While nearly one-third of U.S. consumers reported avoiding takeout from restaurants due to COVID-19 fears, there was a high level of concern over the long-term health of the restaurant industry.
  • Across the globe, consumers also expressed anger and concern about the working conditions and health of healthcare workers on social media.

Key takeaways for businesses

The results of this study clearly show brands that communicate in an empathetic way, deliver relevant resources and focus on building relationships with consumers will be able to drive greater affinity and engagement online. Marketers should focus on developing product messages and content to show customers how they can help fulfill their immediate need for comfort, self-care and the practical information they need to protect their physical, emotional and financial health.