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Homebody economy gains steam in China amid epidemic: report

(People's Daily Online)    11:45, March 26, 2020

As Chinese people were urged to stay at home amid the novel coronavirus epidemic in China, the "homebody economy" reached a wider population across the country, as a growing number of people shopped, studied, worked and amused themselves online at home.

The homebody economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic has boosted new consumption trends, according to a study released by Nielsen, a global measurement and data analytics company.

“Although home quarantine restricts people from going out, it makes staying at home a new way of life and thus boosts the ‘homebody economy'," said Justin Sargent, president of Nielsen China, adding that consumers have quickly adapted to the situation in order to meet daily needs such as staying safe or for shopping, as well as for personal leisure.

Stable supply boosts confidence

As COVID-19 has been gradually contained, the Chinese consumers’ confidence in battling against the virus continues to improve. Stable and sufficient supply of safety materials is essential for fighting off the disease.

During the epidemic, efficient and fast online shopping and delivery services like O2O fresh food platforms have been able to meet daily consumption needs of residents. Diversified online content and other applications continue to serve as entertainment and leisure needs.

According to Nielsen’s survey, 92 percent of the surveyed consumers expressed confidence in China's victory over the outbreak. Their confidence in combating the virus mainly came from the Chinese government’s appropriate preventive and control measures, as well as its timely and transparent disclosure of information. 

Meanwhile, technologies such as the internet, big data and media convergence helped news and information flow quickly. Treatment and quarantine measures were continuously implemented, risks were monitored in real-time, and other new technologies like drones and telemedicine assisted in virus control. 

Healthy and technology-driven trend grows

During the epidemic, the majority of consumers have a positive attitude and welcome their colorful home life – they shop online, work and study at home while staying healthy and leveraging technology.

Online classrooms and “cloud” offices became buzzwords, with 94.1 percent of the respondents holding either a positive or neutral attitude towards the idea of home office work, while 81 percent took online courses to recharge themselves.

The Nielsen study also found that during the epidemic, contactless services such as contactless delivery, telemedicine and intelligent robots were top of mind for Chinese consumers. 

As homebodies embraced technological products with a more positive attitude, ninety-three percent of the respondents were willing to buy 5G mobile phones, and 67 percent of them believed that VR / AR devices will be applicable in virtual shopping scenarios in the future.

In the meantime, homebodies embarked on a buying spree of smart health products, such as air purifiers, water purifiers or smart bracelets. One hot new item during the virus outbreak has been a fitness tracking ring.

"The current situation has quickly raised awareness of health concepts as well as tech-enabled health and fitness, breaking traditional boundaries and linking technology with this new home life situation,” Sargent said.

New opportunity for brand owners

COVID-19 will exert a profound impact on people's lives and consumption habits. The rise of the “homebody economy” will also give us a lot of inspiration. Deepening online channels, improving O2O services further and accelerating multi-channel integration. In fact, this will be the general trend of future development.

The popularity of online services like shopping for fresh food, cloud office work, and online education has risen fast. In the post-epidemic era, brands in these sectors need to push such an advantage, upgrade rapidly, and ramp up efforts to acquire new customers while stabilizing the existing customer group.

"The COVID-19 epidemic is quickly revolutionizing how Chinese consumers think about their health, as well as changing their consumption habits and the channels they are using to shop. It is both a challenge and an opportunity for brands and retailers,” said Sargent.

“With the advent of 5G, AR, artificial intelligence, and a shifting market environment, brand owners should be continually embracing change while exploring new business strategies," he added. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)

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