With 83% of global consumers concerned about COVID-19, healthy eating is out and comfort eating is back, says GlobalData

Stockpiling has come in two forms: the first is for products deemed as ‘essentials’ while in lockdown and the second is ‘new essentials’ or comfort items, which includes products that help keep consumers entertained while housebound. For fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), this means a spike in food and drinks traditionally associated with indulgence, comfort or leisure. This means that health claims popularized at the end of the 2010s are being put on the back-burner, writes GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Carmen Bryan, Consumer Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “In the GlobalData COVID-19 Tracker Consumer Survey conducted on 6th April, 2020, 83% of global consumers claimed they are quite/extremely concerned by COVID-19, with a further 62% expecting the situation to worsen in their respective countries. As a result, we are living in an anxiety economy, with stress and uncertainty significantly influencing consumers purchasing choices. Sales of alcohol, snack foods and tobacco have all increased, with companies such as Nestle seeing strong demand for their snack lines.”

Being cooped up with only junk food to pass the time could run serious risks to one’s health, and may lead to a spike in related diseases such as diabetes. The World Health Organization (WHO) has recognized this as an impending issue, and as such, launched the #HealthyAtHome campaign, encouraging consumers to look after their mental and physical health via exercise, balanced diets and by quitting smoking.

Bryan adds: “The post-COVID-19 scenario may see a second wave of government-endorsed health initiatives, new-and-improved nutritious food labelling, and increased online campaigns geared at informing and encouraging healthy lifestyles. Manufacturers should prepare for a new health craze, as consumers look for products that satisfy their desire for guilt-free eating.”

Brands may find a difficult landscape for new product launches during lockdown – 50% of consumers in GlobalData’s survey stated that they are currently trying to only buy from their favorite brands. Accessibility and familiarity take priority when in the supermarket when consumer movements are limited by social distancing.

Bryan concludes: “While health consciousness appears to have taken a backseat for some consumers, it is likely to rebound in force, backed by consumer demand, governments programs and new product launches that will drive one another in an almost circular economy – brands should take this slowdown to reassess their product lines, and innovate for the long-term, targeting the vices consumers have garnered over the course of quarantining with ‘healthy’ comfort foods.”

More Media