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COVID-19 insights by boobook: Eco-friendly and ethical as the increasing drivers of consumers’ purchasing decisions

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Over the last few weeks, we covered key insights gathered from our global COVID-19 study. In each article, we analysed changes and connections between the pandemic and consumers’ sentiment - about the present and also the future - intending to help businesses navigate successfully on the road to a new normality.

In this final article of the series, we want to share with you our findings and main takeaways about factors regarding purchase choice and the shifts happening due to the pandemic. What is the most critical factor when you decide to purchase an item?



Or eco-friendliness?

The rise of eco-friendliness and ethical dimensions

We asked 4,500 people in 9 countries across the globe to rank purchase drivers based on absolute importance. The top three answers were price, quality and safe for my health. These factors have always been important to consumers, but they’ve become even more crucial now. Being a trusted brand and eco-friendliness showed up as the most popular drivers among the non-price/quality-related product factors.

When it came to ranking purchase drivers with increased importance since COVID-19, across all segments, 'safe for my health' has become an even more important attribute than before. For the "Financial survivors" who have been hit hard financially by the pandemic, 'price' comes before 'safety'.

However, many people have paid more attention to eco-friendliness and ethical products, especially the “Considerate spenders” stand out the most as they put these considerations high on their list.

In our survey, we also asked people to trade-off various product characteristics against the price they would pay for them. Would people pay more for local products, for example? Product availability (in-store or online) and safety are hygiene factors, and you would have to discount heavily for them not to be a major driver of choice these days. Ethical and environmental factors can sustain some price premium in people's minds as well as locally sourced products - to a certain extent.

The willingness to pay extra for specific product characteristics varies between the countries included in the study. For example, Americans seem to be not very keen on paying more for eco-friendly, ethical and local products, while South Africans, Brazilians and Chinese are much more eager.

Still much to learn about the impact of COVID-19

Based on the data and our findings, we can suggest to businesses to find a way to position their brand and products as environmentally friendly and sustainable. The consumer prefers to pay more for eco-friendly/sustainable or ethical than for local products, so ideally, businesses should offer a product or a service that fulfils all three criteria.

Here we conclude (for now) our 7-part analysis of our global study. As much as some insights were surprising, some were also entirely predictable. Nobody knows how long the pandemic will last, and probably the insights we discovered in the first part of the study will change in the next months. That is why we will re-run the survey again in autumn to have more data to compare and help us understand better the changes in the consumers’ mindset.


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