Covid-19 crisis altering consumer priorities, Anstice survey finds

01 April 2020 2 min. read
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Canadians aim to be more caring, compassionate, and giving in the aftermath of the Covid-19 crisis, according to a recent report from marketing and research consultancy Anstice. The survey polled 800 Canadians between March 19-21.

Sixty-seven percent of respondents ranked the basics of life as mattering the most now.

"People are appreciating the foundational necessities of life more than ever – the things that in the past, perhaps that they may have taken for granted," said Dr. Mark Szabo, director of insights and engagement for Anstice.

"They are valuing their health, their families, their work, their freedom of movement, and Canada's public institutions. This has been a wake-up call. For quite a while now consumers have focused on deriving meaning from what they buy, but some of the fundamentals of what people find meaningful are shifting as we speak."

Covid-19 crisis driving more altruism

In terms of the companies respondents plan to support, the top-ranked quality was how well they treat their staff.

Respondents also said they plan to be more philanthropic in how they spend after the crisis, including giving to charities and strangers. The bottom spending priority was “fun, indulgent things.”

"These findings show that COVID-19 has turned the indulgent consumer culture of yesterday upside down and on its head. We appear to be moving into a far more compassionate and kinder society," said Sheenah Rogers-Pfeiffer, founder and chief strategist of Anstice.

Perhaps that’s too bold a pronouncement, however. The benevolent responses could to some degree be influenced by social desirability bias in the survey. The good-will-driven responses could also be a form of psychological bargaining as people face an uncertain future which could include widespread death and economic ruin.

Volunteering and charitable giving have been trending downwards for decades as social capital has eroded. And while people can say they will do something, it is much different from actually seeing it through. That Covid-19 actually alters people’s materialistic and philanthropic patterns in any meaningful or long-term fashion remains to be seen.

The survey found that 43% had a newfound respect for workers in the energy sector, and 50% for people working in utilities, who were providing essential services in an uncertain time.

People said they liked working from home, and more than half said they want employers to continue offering this option on the future. Fifty-two percent, meanwhile, said that online education was viable in the long term.

Twenty-seven percent of respondents indicated a renewed sense of religious faith amid the crisis – which held true even among Gen Z’s. Thirty-eight percent of Gen Z’s also felt more altruistic toward strangers.