As the coronavirus pandemic leaves many fearing for their health and jobs, consumers are shifting their time and money toward things with immediate utility in daily life. But they’re not entirely closed off to companies with products that don’t fall under that category — brands can still prove their value during the crisis by providing help to others.

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Here’s how consumers’ spending habits, media consumption, and brand perceptions have shifted during the crisis:

  • People are shifting a higher share of their spending to ecommerce. Forty-one percent of respondents to an April study by Ipsos and USA Today said they had shifted more of their shopping from physical stores to online, compared with 13% who said the same in March. And people are focusing more heavily on necessities — apparel and appliance purchases are down, while food and household supplies are way up. 
  • Media consumption is up, and video is seeing the highest increase in use. TV is one of the bigger beneficiaries, as families gather around the largest screen in the house: In a March survey from GlobalWebIndex, respondents reported watching more broadcast TV, streaming services and news coverage, at around 40% each. 
  • Consumers are generally open to hearing from brands during the crisis. That said, they expect them to alter their messaging in line with the current situation. People especially like to see brands taking action to help the community — in a March survey by the 4A’s, 56% of respondents said they were pleased to hear about brands making donations of goods and services, the top answer among all responses.

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