GfK’s insights for the Phase 2

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After the lockdown, the Phase 2 has now begun in Italy and it is clear that it will be a gradual path towards a “new normality”. What will be the scenario in terms of consumption, sentiment and communication? During the event “Activate for the Phase 2: GfK insights on Consumer Goods, Media and Communication”, GfK experts provided new insights to the companies on how to deal with the current crisis and the future uncertainty. The insights come from the monitoring of the Coronavirus effects that GfK activated in February. “With our Web Conference – said Enzo Frasio, President of GfK Italia – we have tried to analyze the reality we are experiencing and also to understand the future prospects, what will await us tomorrow. We talked about how the Italian sentiment is evolving and about the new spending habits. We talked about how the world of communication and cross-media are changing. Besides, we highlighted the importance of Entertainment in its broadest sense. We have presented some trends that perhaps will disappear with the end of the crisis and others that will continue to influence our lives even in the new normality. By sharing these and other insights from our researches we have tried to provide our partners with the knowledge necessary to reduce the uncertainty that characterizes this moment and to make important decisions”. During the online event, Daniele Novello (Sub-Lead Consumer Insight) talked about how the sentiment of the Italian consumers has evolved, presenting the most updated results of the GfK COVID-19 Tracking research. In addition, Marco Pellizzoni (Commercial Lead Consumer Panels) underlined how the COVID-19 emergency is revolutionizing the spending habits. “In the first weeks of lockdown, the spending on the fast-moving consumer goods increased significantly (+19.8%), especially for young families with children – Marco Pellizzoni explains -. The Italians continue to stock up on products, reducing the frequency of purchase. The Channel Mix has changed profoundly, with the growth of the proximity channels (including traditional stores) and online: 11.5% of the Italian families did their shopping online in March. A new habit for many (37% had never done online shopping in the last year) but with great growth potential: in fact, in March 19% of the Italians tried to shop online but failed for channel limitations in handling an exploded demand”. In addition to the basic products and to the products related to cleaning, during the lockdown all the products related to the sphere of well-being (Organic, Plant Based, Lactose Free and Gluten Free) grew. But what can we expect for the Phase 2? Pellizzoni explains: “the categories with the highest growth prospect are those that have activated an additional penetration in the recent weeks and that are in line with the new consumption opportunities which, in many cases, will continue also in the Phase 2. The tactical levers from in-store action fail and the communication become again central, also to be addressed to buyers deeply different from the usual. To support the growth during the Phase 2, it will be central to focus on maintaining the penetration, rethinking the role of the channels and being closer to the consumer, also considering the Direct to Consumer”.
Finally, since the beginning of the Coronavirus emergency, GfK has been monitoring how the companies are adapting their communication strategies to the crisis and has activated a weekly monitoring to follow the evolution of consumer sentiment and expectations regarding the communication. “Our researches – explained Cristiana Zocchi, Solution Lead Marketing Effectiveness – show a high interest in keeping the dialogue active through a communication that must however adapt to the new normal. In the people’s expectations, the companies will have to pay attention to some issues of social and economic responsibility, brought to the fore by the pandemic. The brands will then be called to respond to the new needs of the citizens-consumers with specific marketing and communication initiatives for the sector in which they operate”. Media use has also changed a lot since the start of the COVID-19 emergency. TV (+18%) and the Web (+25%) have enjoyed it in an important way, showing unprecedented increases, driven by a very high demand for information content, entertainment and communication. During the lockdown the Italians became even more multimedia. In addition, Giuseppe Minoia (Insight Advisor) presented a reflection on the role that Entertainment had during the lockdown and that it can still have in the Phase 2. According to GfK data, the entertainment buyers have grown in the last two years and also in the Phase 2 there are many opportunities for this sector: “Italians – said Minoia – can’t wait to go out with friends, go on a trip, go shopping not alone, go to the bar and restaurant, go back to the beautician and in the gym, go to the cinema, theater, stadium, and take part in a event. For now it can’t be done, but the entertainment consumers can’t wait to go out to share these types of consumption that yesterday we called experiences. It is therefore essential for the operators of the sector to return to communicating and planning, also developing new promotion and sales strategies in an early bird perspective”.

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