Study: Pandemic raising news consumption

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Analysis from evidence-based insights and consulting company Kantar’s Covid-19 Barometer, which explores the market implications of the Coronavirus, suggests that news consumption is up, as people seek to stay informed, revealing how people are reacting and adapting to the ‘new normal’ as the pandemic progresses.

Now surveying more than 30,000 consumers across over 50 markets, major findings from the second wave of the study include:

Financial concerns are #1 worry

  • More than half of people globally (52 per cent) say their day-to-day lives have now been impacted by the current situation – up from 39 per cent in wave 1.
  • All around the world, overall levels of concern are intensifying as the pandemic progresses. The rise is particularly evident in the UK and US, where concern levels have increased by 23 percentage points to 82 per cent and 21 percentage points to 79 per cent respectively.
  • Financial concerns outweigh personal health concerns. 68 per cent of people say the situation demands more proactive financial planning (up from 62 per cent in wave 1), and 60 per cent (vs 53 per cent in wave 1) are worried about the economy’s ability to recover. Only 50 per cent of people are concerned about falling sick compared to 45 per cent in wave 1 of the study.
  • The financial concern is driven by the very real impact Covid-19 is having on household incomes, with millennials feeling the most severe impact. 78 per cent of 18-34 year olds say their household income has or will be impacted by Coronavirus, compared to 71 per cent overall.

News consumption is up, as people seek to stay informed

  • Being prepared and keeping well informed is the primary response across markets, seen as paramount by more than a third of respondents globally (34 per cent).
  • National media channels, such as nationwide TV channels and newspapers, are still seen as the most trusted source of information, with 54 per cent of people identifying them as a trustworthy source (up from 52 per cent in wave 1).
  • Audience Measurement data collected by Kantar has recorded significant viewer increases in news outlets around the world:
    • In China, the time spent watching news programmes has more than doubled in the first three months of the year from 9 hours in 2019 to 18.5 hours in 2020.
    • In the UK, 17 out of the 20 most watched shows in 2020 have been BBC News.
    • In Brazil, the share of time spent watching the news has increased by a third through the month of March.
  • Trust in government websites has increased to 54 per cent, vs 48 per cent during wave 1 of the research, suggesting that as the severity of the pandemic increases, people are increasingly looking to their government for information and support.

Those most affected see this is an opportunity to reset

  • Young adults are more likely to be feeling the financial impact of the Coronavirus and are experiencing the most change to their day-to-day lives. Many are making more healthier lifestyle choices, as people look to take control of what they can.
    • 59 per cent of 18-34s say they are eating more healthily
    • 57 per cent are using this an opportunity to sleep more
    • 48 per cent are exercising more regularly
    • 44 per cent are focusing on personal development
    • 25 per cent are choosing to meditate
  • Older age groups (55+) are trying to get a much sunlight as possible in the context of greater restrictions to their freedom of movement.

Consumers increasingly expect companies to ‘step up’

  • Data from the first wave of the Covid-19 Barometer research found that people expect businesses to prioritise staff welfare and to play their part in supporting society through the pandemic. Analysis of data from the second wave suggests the public role for companies is accelerating, as people expect practical help from companies, including the donation of useful items and helping the government.
  • 47 per cent (41 per cent in wave 1) of people expect companies to support hospitals during the crisis, while 39 per cent (35 per cent in wave 1) say that companies should be making themselves available to governments.
  • Like companies, brands are also in the public eye – and are expected to be practical, realistic and helpful. 31 per cent of people want brands to help them during their everyday life suggesting that how brands behave now will be remembered in life after the pandemic.
  • Only 8 per cent of consumers believe that companies should stop advertising, with many claiming that it is a welcome distraction, reminding most of more normal times.

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