Consumer monitor: We rather want to regulate more than less corona March

In summary: Consumers are more likely to want more corona measures than less, according to the most recent report. Communication about this must be much clearer. People recognize that they themselves are also less compliant with the measures. In addition, people with an insecure work situation are increasingly concerned about their financial situation. On the one hand, this leads to thrift, but also to impulse purchases. The latter is a well-known phenomenon in crisis periods. This is evident from the Consumer Behavior Monitor, an initiative of research agency Validators and VU Amsterdam.

Rather more than less corona measures
From the start of the corona crisis, we as Dutch have been positive about the approach taken by the government. But where about two-thirds of the Dutch believed until just before the start of the summer holidays that the measures taken by the government were good, this is clearly changing. Nowadays, only 46% of the Dutch people think the measures are just right, while a record 36% believe that the measures are (much) too limited. This group has increased by nearly 20% in recent weeks. The group that receives the most attention in the media, the people who want fewer measures, is stable over the same period.

Mandy Merks, Insights Consultant at Validators: ‘So you can see that nuances in reporting are in order. A lot of attention is paid to the corona protests, but the majority of the Dutch expect more measures, action and communication from the government. ‘

In order to properly comply with and enforce the measures that apply to our behavior, it is important that it is clear what we must do. A large survey by the RIVM and GGD-GHOR (2020, July) * into attitudes towards the code of conduct shows that more than half of the Dutch consider the measures inconsistent, but do follow them. However, about 2 in 5 Dutch people indicate that they become confused, are less motivated to follow the rules or simply do not know what to do.

The Dutch also think that the corona measures to keep a distance of 1.5 meters and to stay at home as much as possible are being observed less and less. Although we think that we still comply with these rules ourselves, only 41% of the Dutch think that others do too (compared to 54% at the beginning of June). 38% feel that others still stay at home as much as possible (compared to 49% at the beginning of June). Own compliance also declined slightly during this period. People seem to get used to it. We are less concerned and notice the increase in the number of infections – not yet – in our personal environment.

Gijs de Beus, strategist at Friends & Foes and member of the expert panel: ‘Last weekend I was loudly yelled at by a fellow visitor at the Rijksmuseum that I was not following the walking direction. I was shocked. She was absolutely right. But shouldn’t that be easier? In addition to the dry press conferences, there should be some behavioral communication to support us in complying with the measures. All those brands that talk about it purpose should also be allowed to take the lead here. ‘

Confidence in the government’s approach is declining
Government measures therefore need to be more clearly and consistently highlighted. This is important, not only to stop the spread of the virus, but also to maintain confidence in the government. Confidence in the government’s approach has declined relatively sharply in the past month. Especially in the large cities, where it has long been believed that the measures are (much) too limited.

Unsecure: worries, switching behavior and small luxuries
We are less concerned about an economic crisis than in previous weeks. The unemployed and people with an insecure work situation have also been less and less concerned about this for several weeks. At the same time, the concerns of these insecure people about their own financial and work situation are growing sharply. This group therefore seems to be mainly concerned about the short term.

We also see this reflected in their switching behavior when doing their daily shopping. In the past month, they have started to buy cheaper brands that they did not previously buy (from 13% in week 30 to 20% in week 34) and less often the brands they always bought (from 63% in week 30 to 48% in week 34). In this group, a lot more consumers say that they have less money left and therefore save less and spend more on basic necessities. At the same time, some of the people with an insecure work situation show apparently irrational behavior. While their concerns about their personal situation are growing, they are more likely to spend money left over on fun things (such as entertainment and personal development) than putting it aside.

Rob Revet, brand strategist at FNDMNTL: ‘This irrational behavior is less crazy than it seems. It is also called the “lipstick effectDuring a crisis you are not going to buy very expensive things. But biting on a piece of wood all the time does not make anyone happy. So then people allow themselves, often on impulse, a small luxury. So a lipstick, but no new shoes, for example. ‘
(PvWK, source: Validators / VU, photo: Andrea Piacquadio via Pexels)

* RIVM (2020, May). Behavioral science research COVID-19: Results of research into behavioral rules and well-being. Consulted via this link

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