Most Australians worry about a second wave of infection

11 May 2020 Consultancy.com.au

More than 90% of Australians are to some extent worried about a second wave of Covid-19 infection, as they continue to wrap their head around an entirely new lifestyle. This is according to research conducted by insights and data consultancy Kantar. 

Since early March when the Covid-19 crisis first began having an impact on daily and professional life, Kantar has been surveying consumers in waves to gauge their sentiment. The latest wave consists of responses from 500 Australians collected between in the last week of April, and shows growing concerns as Australians make adjustments in every sphere of life.

Two thirds of Aussie consumers state that they have been personally impacted by Covid-19 and its related disruptions, which includes a nationwide lockdown. Worries are only intensifying as time progresses, with more than 90% of the respondents reporting that they are concerned Covid-19 will return in a second wave.

Covid-19 barometer - Concerns

A large part of this concern relates to prolonged disruption to personal and professional life, although many are also concerned about the widespread economic impact. Big Four accounting and advisory firm KPMG predicted back in March that Covid-19’s economic impact would run into tens of billions. This was before lockdown measures were introduced and were since intensified.

Kantar reports that there has been a 5% jump in the number of Australians worried about the economic outlook since the previous edition of the same research (second week of April). Australia was already in a period of low consumption before the crisis, and pockets are getting even tighter amid the current climate, causing many furrowed brows.

Despite this scenario, Australian’s appear to be a touch more optimistic than some other large economies across the globe, which include Canada, the UK, Singapore, Spain and Italy, among others. This can be partly attributed to the relatively low levels of infection in the country, with less than 7,000 cases and fewer than a hundred fatalities.

Government response

Australians are also drawing comfort from the government response to the crisis, which has included swiftly introduced mechanisms for social distancing, investment in healthcare capacity and case tracking and isolation of hotspots. Kantar reports that more than more than 70% of Australians are confident in their government’s response to the crisis, which has increased by 6% since the last wave.

Approval of government response to the coronavirus crisis

This is marginally higher than approval in Canada and Singapore, and is significantly higher than the approval rate of government response in Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, and the US.

So Australians are relatively optimistic, but increasingly concerned. Most just want to resume a normal lifestyle, which includes social activity, or simply leaving the house. Kantar checked what Australians are most looking forward to post the isolation measures, and found that meeting friends is the priority for most.

Meeting relatives is also among the priorities, although many just wish to resume fun social activities such as going to restaurants and pubs, travelling, shopping, going to the cinema, playing sports, watching sports, attending religious services, among others. More than 20% miss going back to the workplace.

The range of priorities is promising from an economic standpoint, as it indicates a potential boom in spending and consumer activity post the crisis.

Post-isolation, Australians are most looking forward to

Getting branding right

The researchers have advice for brands that wish to be at the forefront when this boom arrives, and it has a lot to do with how they conduct themselves during the lockdown.

“With an overload of ‘we are here to help’ messages over the past month, Aussies are looking for tangible actions by brands that align with their values. Brands should continue to be practical and realistic in their advice to customers; but acknowledge the growth in the number of people who want to see exactly how brands are fighting the crisis,” said Kantar Australia Executive Director for qualitative research Carolyn Reid.

“Amplifying shared values, activating your brand purpose and focusing on engendering feelings of community and optimism is critical. If sociability is core to your brand, elevate the joy of shared moments. Authenticity counts, and right now, empathy is critical to resonate. Your communication must fit the moment. Tune into your customers voice and needs and reframe relevance. This isn’t a time for inaction. Anticipate the changing human story and cultural narrative. Pivoting your offer and message to meet changing human needs is the new brand normal,” she added.


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