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Published July 2nd 2020

Europe Data: Personal Spending and Saving Habits Now and in the Future

As lockdowns in Europe loosen, businesses will want to understand how people are making buying decisions, and which purchases are no longer a priority in this new context.

To help answer these questions, we used Brandwatch Qriously to survey over 5,000 people in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain via their smartphones and tablets.

Their responses reveal how spending habits changed during lockdown and offer a window into how consumers expect to use their money once outbreaks are contained.

These insights are part of a broader study into behavioural change across Europe over the past few months. You can explore the full reports on changes in consumption and public perceptions around spending, eating, drinking, exercise, and travel here:

So let’s see how people are approaching their personal finances.

How did buying behaviours change during lockdown?

With income security still hanging in the balance for many, and palpable public concern over how businesses are maintaining safety standards during the pandemic, some people have been making essential purchases only.

Home improvements, personal electronics, subscriptions, and new vehicles are just some of the purchases people have put on hold or cancelled during the pandemic.

Key insights and considerations:

  • Unsurprisingly, holiday plans were scuppered as travel restrictions came into play for much of the world. Of the countries we surveyed, this is especially true for people in the UK, where 43% of respondents reported disruption to holidays. Travel companies must now plan for recovery in a new context and work hard to rebuild customers’ trust and desire to travel.
  • Nearly 1 in 10 of all respondents said they’d postponed or cancelled buying subscriptions, electronics, tech, or new vehicles during lockdown.
  • 15% of respondents said they had put home improvements (including new furnishings) on hold.

Could the drop in purchases over the last few months prompt a spike in demand now, as retailers open up and supply chains clip back together? Or are consumers going to continue to be scrupulous with their money? Have they decided that a new car or smartphone just isn’t so important to them anymore?

To understand how consumers’ mindsets are shifting, businesses will need to monitor consumer attitudes and behaviours in real time, and prepare for irregular sales patterns in 2020 in order to either meet increased demand or mitigate loss. Sign up for our free daily data bulletin to learn more about how consumers are changing.

How do people think they’ll manage their money in future?

To explore how people are likely to manage their money in the wake of the current health crisis, we asked about their spending and saving intentions.

Key insights and considerations:

  • It may be a savvy move for banks or other financial services to increase marketing spend for products which empower saving behaviours – particularly in Spain, Germany and the UK, where consumers are expressing the biggest desire to save.
  • Respondents in Spain are more likely than those in other countries we studied to focus on saving (37%), but the least interested in buying extra financial protections such as insurance and cover products (2%).
  • Perhaps encouragingly for many businesses, nearly half of all respondents say they plan to maintain the same level of spending as before the pandemic.
  • 5% of all respondents say they are interested in investing and dabbling with stocks and shares. This tallies with the increase in online conversation around betting on the stock market which we reported on recently. Online brokerages have seen a record number of new accounts created this year, and the big four (E-Trade, TD Ameritrade, Charles Schwab, and Fidelity Investors) executed as many trades in March and April as they did in the whole first quarter of 2019.
  • People in France are more likely to make big purchases using loans or credit cards than consumers in other countries. This could be a new cue for banks to compete more aggressively with attractive rewards and loyalty programmes for French consumers.

How will consumers choose to spend their disposable income?

Up until recently, lockdown in Europe has prohibited many social and cultural activities. But, as venues and experiences start to reopen, businesses will be wondering: “if we build it, will they come?”.

As part of our Brandwatch Qriously survey, we asked our 5,000 respondents what leisure activities they’d prioritise when they’re safe and permitted to do so.

Key insights and considerations:

  • 62% of respondents in Germany are eager to socialise at restaurants and bars, while only 33% of respondents in Italy say this is a priority.
  • In general, there’s pretty strong appetite to get outdoors for fun, while fewer people want to visit indoor venues for activities such as the theater, concerts, or cinema.
  • Of the countries surveyed, people in France are most likely to want to go to the cinema, people in Italy favour concerts, festivals, museums, and galleries, and people in the UK have the highest preference for theatres and musicals (when it’s safe to go).
  • On average, 34% of respondents are keen to get back to the gym and their sports activities.

Some of these stats are somewhat reassuring for gyms, leisure, and entertainment businesses. However, it’s one thing to know that your audience is itching to “get back on the treadmill”, but quite another task to convince them to walk boldly back through your front door. Even once government measures are lifted, people won’t necessarily feel safe.

As part of our ongoing research using Brandwatch Qriously, consumers are revealing a reluctance to re-engage with public activities without more safety measures. Rebuilding customer trust is likely to be an arduous task.

New priorities for shoppers

Across the countries we surveyed, 38% of respondents say the pandemic has changed the way they shop. We know the shift will be due to a number of factors, including store closures, supply shortages, and changes in personal finances.

But will these new shopping habits stick around post-Covid-19? Have consumers had a chance to experience “a new way”, and reevaluate what’s most important to them?

To add colour to people’s values and preferences when it comes to shopping, we asked what factors they would prioritise after the pandemic.

Key insights and considerations:

  • People in Spain, France, and the UK are likely to focus on price, quality, and locally sourced goods when making buying decisions post-Covid-19.
  • When it comes to shopping at well-known highstreet stores and big chains, this doesn’t appear to be a priority for many consumers. However, people in Italy are slightly more inclined to do this than others elsewhere – especially in comparison to people in Spain who care far less about highstreet names and are the strongest advocates for locally sourced goods.

These findings may be an indication that brand loyalty suffers in turbulent times. As lockdowns continue to lift, brands will have to work hard to win back customers who have either chosen to or had to shop differently over the past few months.

We recommend checking out our new Brand Loyalty Report for practical tips on increasing customer trust in difficult times.

If your business wants voluntary, fast, and candid consumer feedback to help you make swift and effective decisions, Brandwatch Qriously is the solution you’re looking for. Capture an accurate pulse on product sentiment, shopping preferences, current affairs, or local issues to stay agile in an ever-changing global context.

Our unique sampling methodology and zero-incentive approach delivers candid consumer feedback businesses can rely on.

Watch this short video to see how Brandwatch Qriously can help you make smarter decisions:

See Brandwatch Qriously in action.
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Consumer Insights to Drive Your Business’s Change Strategy in 2020

View our UK Brandwatch Qriously report to discover how the pandemic has affected consumption and what consumers expect to do next.

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