CONSUMERS FIND IMPROVED ACCESS TO FMCG PRODUCTS DURING LOCKDOWN

Hand with credit card and a small shopping cart coming from laptop screen isolated in white

The majority of New Zealanders support the Government’s handling of the COVID-19 situation, yet lack confidence in their personal financial stability through the crisis – according to new research.

The two-stage study, commissioned by FMCG research firm Penrose Data, compared consumer attitudes before and after the first week of Level 4 lockdown.

The research found consumers’ optimism that the COVID-19 crisis would improve increased significantly from 14% to 32% after the lockdown began.

However, less than half (45%) of Kiwis are confident in their financial stability, a figure which has remained constant prior to and during the lockdown.

As a result, more than 90% of consumers will put off making at least one major purchase due to COVID-19. This figure is highest for recreation/sports products or computers (34%), vehicles or property (33%), appliances (32%) and furniture (29%). Only a tenth (9%) of Kiwis say it won’t impact their major purchases.

Despite the financial impact, consumer confidence in the Government’s response to COVID-19 has increased significantly following the first week of the lockdown with seven in 10 (70%) believing the response has been effective so far.

Geoff Walmsley, CEO of Penrose Data, who is currently caught up in his fourth week of lockdown in the Netherlands, saw a number of parallels between the two markets and initiated the study to support Kiwi businesses.

Walmsley said the company specialises in providing research insights for Kiwi FMCG exporters but recognises it is often the SME’s who are most in need of information at this time.

“The Netherlands is currently in its fourth week of nationwide lockdown in response to the COVID-19 crisis – where the curve is just starting to flatten off,” said Walmsley.

“The lead time ahead of the New Zealand market gave us a better understanding of the challenges that would be faced for consumers and companies alike and allowed us to measure attitudinal shifts as the Level 4 changes were implemented. We believe that access to timely information can help businesses better navigate the challenges ahead and we will be providing weekly insights throughout the lockdown period,” he says.

Despite the dip in consumer confidence locally, key export markets such as China have reopened and demand for New Zealand products will support our economic recovery.

The research also found that Kiwis had improved access to basic food after the lockdown – particularly for items like bread with more than a third (35%) of respondents having trouble purchasing it, compared to just a fifth (20%) after the lockdown began.

Similarly, one in three (35%) Kiwis had limited access to cleaning products before the lockdown with this dropping to a quarter (24%) at the end of the first week. Access to fruit and vegetables declined however with a seventh of those surveyed encountering restrictions of these goods.

Those who reported struggling with access to basic staples were more likely to have a negative view of the Government’s response to the crisis.