As Phase 3 in the Government’s plans to lift lockdown restrictions springs into action next week, the Irish public has become much more confident with managing life with COVID-19, according to the latest wave of research from Core, as Finian Murphy, Marketing Director, Core explains.
Throughout our research, three areas have remained consistent – the first is the public’s optimistic outlook that we would overcome the outbreak, paired with a serious determination to behave correctly. The second has been a growing level of belief that fellow citizens are behaving as safe as they can led by trusted public health experts and the third is an appreciation towards local businesses in how they have handled the three months of COVID-19 restrictions.
These three areas are beginning to provide a clearer understanding of how consumers will behave for the remainder of the year, and the priorities and concerns they will have about other people and businesses operating in a COVID-19 world.
Based on the third wave of research from Core’s Roadmap to Recovery series, over 100 days of research, with over 14,000 interviews, we can now predict how consumer confidence will grow in the remaining year, based on key criteria. The key points which should be considered are:
39% remain very or extremely concerned about the COVID-19 situation. For the first time, there are more people a little concerned about COVID-19 than those who are concerned, however, it is important to acknowledge there remains to be a strong level of concern. This has translated into a further growth in the KBC Consumer Sentiment Index for June.
While confidence increases, people are engaging first in the area that matters the most –socialising with family and friends.
56% are confident to meet people outside, and 37% have already done so. The safest environment people find is outdoors and there has been a significant embrace of public spaces (parks and beaches), but only on dry, warm days.
Business holding high approval rating
83% of people believe local business have handled the situation very well. Local shops and businesses continue to have a high public approval rating, but how they establish and communicate their safe operations will be key in holding this high score during the reopen.
Making the unfamiliar familiar
Despite the reduced level of concern, 25% of people are uncertain about whether we will overcome COVID-19. Lastly, there has been an increase in uncertainty about whether we can overcome the COVID-19 situation. In our last wave of research people were comfortable with the five phases and had yet to envisage the micro-detail of various spaces having different restrictions. People now need to mentally work to understand every familiar situation in a new way.
Our analysis of 38 activities across 6 categories (including retail and recreation) indicates that the level of confidence has remained relatively the same since 6 weeks ago, when we ran our first wave of research.
Those who have engaged in activities which have been permitted in phase 1 or phase 2+ are more confident about other activities, but the key point will be how consumers experiences other people and organisation of spaces in the coming weeks. Safe behaviour will determine if sentiment translates into spend.
To build on confidence across the summer, three key areas to consider:
Embracing the Summer
The season of summer benefits us in improving consumer confidence, by responding to the public’s desire to socialise outside.
Where possible, bringing retail and recreation outdoors will be to key instilling confidence post-Covid19
Reassuring on Safety
We must acknowledge that people are mentally processing how to navigate each new experience or scenario in a new way, compared to the past.
Providing reassuring explanations and shortcuts to visualise the adapted experience, focused on safety is key in communications.
Re-positioning the Enjoyment
There is also an important balance between reassurance and reminding people about the fun and benefits of recreation and retail.
Showcasing the return of visitors, behaving in new ways, but benefit from the enjoyment of familiar experiences.
Finian Murphy is marketing director of Core. To download a full copy of Core’s latest Covid research report click HERE