COVID 19: Consumer Sentiment Behaviour

April 28, 2020


As restrictions extend, frustration and anxiety are core emotions, but so is optimism.

Upcoming weeks will be critical in the dynamic of emotions. With news such as Ireland’s ‘surge’ being potentially mitigated and with some progressive easing of restrictions in Europe, expectations will be constantly evolving. Frustrations may turn to anger if messaging isn’t aligned.

‘Normality’ is expected to return towards the end of the year.

Sixty-one percent (61%) of people believe normality will return in 3 – 9 months time. Few (13%) believe this will happen within the next three months. What ‘normal’ represents is difficult for people to articulate. Reassurance is needed that the current sacrifices being made will be worthwhile.

Travel is high on the agenda once life resumes.

Physically re-connecting with family and friends is the key driver once restrictions fall. Once this higher order need is satisfied, people will look to treat themselves – shop, eat out, and to travel/go on holidays. Social restrictions will have a role here – limitations in who people can go on holiday with may dampen excitement.

With growing acceptance there will be no swift recovery from the pandemic the majority believe ‘normality’ won’t return until the latter stages of this year.

Q. How long do you think it will be before the situation returns to normal?

Once normality returns, there is a clear desire to fulfil the fundamental needs of human connection, to reengage with everyday behaviours, but also to escape – to have a holiday and to travel.

Q. Once it has and things return to normal, what will be the first 3 things you will do that you are looking forward to the most?

After initially falling with the growing scale of the crisis, travel intentions have plateaued and remain positive. Some will have retained bookings made pre-covid.

Q. Do you intend taking a short break of at least 1-3 nights in Ireland in the
next 6 months?

Holiday timeframes have adjusted to meet expectations of when life will return to normal. Timeframes also signal a target window for domestic travel communications.

Q. When do you intend taking this short break in Ireland?

Qualitative research illustrates how central travel is to people’s lives. High degrees of uncertainty mean some can’t project a time when holidays may be possible – travel intention becomes more of an aspiration.

  • The majority of participants had to cancel trips and holidays with the financial and emotional impact clearly felt.
  • Feelings of disappointment which was difficult to come to terms with.
  • Tough, challenging times with no let up on the horizon, trips abroad are no longer on the agenda.

Uncertainty permeates all aspects of life – feelings of being scared and nervous of what the new normal will look like given the acceptance that Covid-19 has changed everything and life wont be the same.

  • Personal impact is keenly felt and to the fore; the inherent difficulty in having a plan “crazy world at the moment”
  • Life is paused, work and the economy are a major concern “fear for the recovery” “scary times ahead”
  • It is out of our hands “we just have to follow the rules and hope it will make a difference”
  • Assume it will be September, if not Christmas before things return to “something near normality”

Unsurprisingly, the public are experiencing a broad spectrum of emotions – frustration, anxiety, helplessness, but also a sense of optimism.

Negative emotions are yet to manifest into anger signalling a level of understanding and acceptance of the situation, even after the announcement of the extension of restrictions Easter weekend.

Q. How would you say you are feeling about your own personal situation currently in the current climate as a direct result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Community commitment to restrictions is evident in social media channels — a tweet by Des Cahill (132k followers) @7:30pm on April 8th triggered hundreds of supportive comments that evening.

Social media chatter mentioning travel specifically has been overshadowed by health and financial impacts. Interestingly, an increase of chat on cancellation was recorded after the announcement of the restrictions being extended, suggesting some were continuing to hold out for a more timely end to the crisis.