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Coronavirus: from offline to online, so our consumption changes in pandemic times

Reply’s report on citizens’ trends in the coronavirus period. Teleworking apps, online purchases for home or hygiene products and health insurance are on the rise.

From offline to online consumption, from a first phase of anxiety to action. How do citizens’ consumption, behavior and trends change in times of a pandemic? A Reply report tells us that, with Sonar Trend Platform, has mapped trends and market trends, using technology to try to understand how the habits of global consumers change and will change, starting from the observation of what happened in China in the days between late February and early March after several weeks of isolation.

Thanks to a platform that analyzes millions of data and is based on two different technologies, China Beats for the Chinese market and Trend Sonar for the western world, Reply has observed some of the most significant trends in coronavirus time. The most obvious change of pace is the transition from offline to online. The pandemic and measures to contain it have shifted consumption from retailing in stores to increasing purchases on e-commerce channels. In fact, the food delivery and home delivery service is growing, but the online request for home hygiene products or, frightened by the virus, the demand for life or health insurance policies is also growing.

Online purchases of products and accessories for personal care such as razors, hair dryers, detergents, creams, massage devices are also growing, but also the demand for fresh vegetables and products for cooking and preparing food at home. In addition, well over 70%, requests for drugs, medicines, masks and everything that has to do with medical care are rising.

The increase in online entertainment services, video games and above all the services related to remote work is a noteworthy issue, which is already being observed also in Italy where among the most downloaded apps in the last period there are, for example, different systems for work to be at home, like Google Hangout Meet or Google Classroom.

On the contrary, the demand for a long series of products and sectors, from catering to bars, from travel to everything related to tourism, from cinemas to cultural events and in most sectors the key word to start again is as conceivable seems to be “reinventing yourself online”, often using live streaming or virtual reality.

The China Beats platform takes the example of the automotive sector: with the closing of car showrooms and dealerships in February 2020 in China there was a drop in car sales of 92%. In order to maintain interaction with consumers and present new models to the public, some manufacturers are launching themselves on virtual showrooms: with this system, in general, those who have invested in digitalization and virtual reality are managing to contain losses and to for example, online searches for certain goods do not drop, keeping hopes of a future recovery high.

Finally, the report, in a situation of extreme economic difficulty for all, also observes how today’s situation, for example in China, has turned into an opportunity for some companies that provide digital services related to transport, services for the education and for remote work or to applications for live streaming, or in any case it has resulted in a sort of “test” to understand the orientation of consumption and the methods of use of the future, in the hope that soon the pandemic in progress to be defeated.

Sarah Johnson

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