All Australians have had their lives dramatically altered through the pandemic, but not all of us have emerged in the same way – a new report reveals there are five distinct personalities bred from this upheaval.
And the results show the majority of Australians are afraid.
Six thousand people were surveyed over three months to construct the Brand New Australia profile, part of which reveals what kind of shoppers and consumers COVID-19 has created.
As a country, we have watched and analysed at length how individuals have reverted to base-level instincts when it comes to looking out for themselves and their loved ones – take toilet paper as an obvious example.
Because the pandemic has changed every aspect of our lives, individuals have been forced to pivot in the way we go about our daily lives, consumer psychology expert Jana Bowden said.
“We have had to question where we go and what we do when we are out and about,” Associate Professor Bowden, of Macquarie University, said.
“We have had to focus on safety, and hygiene – something that we have never had to give thought to before.”
It’s Urban Dictionary official. pic.twitter.com/QTXZuSXkvW
— Associate Professor Jana Lay-Hwa Bowden (@ProfConsumers) July 11, 2020
James Jayesuria, managing director of Nature – one of the companies that commissioned the report – said there was a divide between two camps of Australians.
One side feels, on the whole, that this is an opportunity for change, while the other believes the world needs to return to ‘normal’.
“For many, the pandemic has led to their first taste of unemployment, a looming recession and a potential housing market crash,” Mr Jayesuria said.
“For some, it has led to a rise in the sense of community and connection to local neighbourhoods.
“For others, it has led to a reinterpretation of what matters – where we spend our time and money, what we missed and what we didn’t miss.”
From these changes, these are the five consumers prowling the shops of Australia.
The Safety Seekers
This group is the majority of Australians – at least those surveyed – at 26 per cent.
They’re worried. They will be on edge until a vaccine is developed and, as a result, are cautious about their movements.
Australia’s ageing population might account for this group’s prevalence in the findings.
They’re more likely to cocoon themselves, Professor Bowden said – which is evidenced in the surge in Baby Boomer online shopping.
“This indicates that these consumers are being much more guarded and careful about where they go and what they do when they shop,” she explained.
These will not be the people who take risks.
They’ll be the last to go out for dinner or on a plane, when restrictions ease, Professor Bowden said.
At 20 per cent we have a class of shoppers who have still been financially hit but they’re using this opportunity to streamline their lifestyles to save money.
In person, that could look like an investment in spending on items that feed a “caving behaviour”, Professor Bowden said.
“Focusing on the essentials rather than the luxuries allows consumers to feel like they have regained some control,” she said, listing home entertainment, home cooking and gardening as examples.
This 20 per cent of Aussies are excited, in a way, by the future this pandemic has created.
They see it as a chance to reset their life path.
They like working from home, they like shopping online – it allows them to develop more of a family unit, Professor Bowden said.
“The consumption of goods that fit with this new lifestyle – new ways of cooking at home, exercising at home, engaging in family entertainment fit with this,” she told TND.
Like the Simplifiers, this 18 percentile have taken a financial hit (who hasn’t), but they are bunkering down for a few tough years.
They want to maximise their savings where possible.
These shoppers are switching to frugal mode. They’re willing to trial new and generic brands, and will look for deals.
“It really is about survival, saving and safety,” Professor Bowden said.
National ANZ-observed spending was relatively stable in July despite Melbourne’s #lockdowns (+10.4% y/y for the week to 18 July), but improvements in social and movement categories stalled. #Retail growth remained the highlight (+25% y/y). @Adelaide__T #ausecon #ausretail pic.twitter.com/3GVAn38WmM
— ANZ_Research (@ANZ_Research) July 21, 2020
The smallest portion of the survey results, at 16 per cent, is the Returners.
They’re marked by a strong desire for life to revert to exactly the way it was pre-coronavirus.
They will not let the pandemic change the way they live, the survey media release from The Lab and Nature states.
Professor Bowden, however, disagrees they form their own category.
Instead, she said, their traits are within us all.
“They are concerned about the future, but they want the future as it was in the past and that applies to all of us,” she said.
“This is a consumer trait that applies to all of us irrespective of economic condition or psychological disposition.
“It’s a fundamental trait of all people that we want to have a sense of control over our lives and our destinies.”