SINGAPORE (Apr 27): Since the Covid-19 outbreak, new buying patterns have emerged. Not long after countries announced their lockdowns, people around the world promptly flocked to supermarkets, convenience stores, and minimarts to stock up on toilet paper rolls, hand sanitisers, wet wipes, instant noodles, and other essentials.  

Following Covid-19, about 35.1% of some 4,859 people surveyed across the US, Canada, the UK, France, and Germany, has spent more on groceries and little else. These consumers also show particular concern for their families, and take on a more pessimistic long-term outlook. This is according to the first EY Future Consumer Index released on Monday.

See also: After Covid-19: How going back to work will change around the world

The Index has also identified four consumer segments that have emerged during the Covid-19 pandemic. These consumer segments, which track consumers’ spending across three expense categories – groceries, clothing and footwear, and leisure activities – are identified as “Cut deep”, “Stay calm, carry on”, “Save and stockpile”, and “Hibernate and spend”.

“Cut deep”, which makes up 27% of the respondents surveyed, represents consumers that are spending less across the board. These respondents are mainly over 45 years old, and have felt the biggest impact on their employment status.

Consumers under “Stay calm, carry on” are continuing life as normal; those under the “Save and stockpile” category, spend most of their money on groceries and little else; and “Hibernate and spend”, which comprises consumers most concerned about the impact of the pandemic, are spending more across the board.

See also: How the pandemic will change the world

According to the Index, not many expect to go back to their old lifestyle anytime soon. An overall 42% of respondents believe that their shopping habits will fundamentally change as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak, with 34% of consumers indicating that they would pay more for local products, 25% for trust brands, and 23% for ethical products. 

Kristina Rogers, EY Global Consumer Leader, says: “Looking beyond the immediate effects of COVID-19, few consumers expect to revert back to pre-crisis behaviours any time soon. In these uncertain times, no one knows how long the transition will take or whether different consumer trends will emerge”.

Post-Covid-19, consumer segments could transition further into five new segments over time. The Index has identified these segments as “Get to normal” (31.4%), “Cautiously extravagant” (24.7%), “Stay frugal” (21.7%), “Keep cutting” (13.1%), and “Back with a bang” (9.1%).

“Companies were already struggling to keep up with changing consumer behaviours before the pandemic. Now it’s even more critical for companies to anticipate how consumers will change and respond to specific segment needs,” says Andrew Cosgrove, EY Global Consumer Knowledge Leader and lead analyst.

See also: What lessons should Singapore learn from the Covid-19 crisis?