Will Covid-19 Change Irish Consumers for Good


RTÉ hosted a webinar on 20th May 2020 featuring Geraldine O'Leary (RTÉ), Debbie Byrne (Managing Director, An Post Retail), Neal Davies (CEO, BBDO Dublin) and Luke Reaper (Managing Director, B&A). The discussion was moderated by Will Goodbody. The event was attended by over 180 people from the marketing industry.

The discussion focused around new research from B&A about consumer sentiment during the Covid-19 crisis. One of the main takeaways from this research is that as a nation we are now looking to the future having focused on the immediate crisis up until this point. The areas of concern have shifted from an acute health crisis (which is still a concern but not as much as at the emergence of the outbreak) to the looming economic downturn that we can expect as a result of the global crisis.

In a survey conducted by B&A with over 1,000 respondents they found that while 55% of people believe that we will return to some form of normal life by the end of 2020 45% see this crisis lasting into 2021. As well as this, 91% of Irish adults feel that the economy will be in a worse state in the next 12 months.

An interesting point raised in the research was that most people are not looking for things to go back to normal after the crisis. 71% of respondents want some of the change caused by Covid-19 to remain, this pattern is strongest among Millennials and ABC1. The trend being that people have developed some habits that they consider good and would not like to lose these as we go back to some form of normality.

Over half (55%) are now being more careful with money and 61% want to continue this after Covid-19. An appreciation of nature and the environment is a strong trend in this survey and the majority want to maintain these 'good habits'.

The move to online banking and online shopping has been pronounced and something that many consumers see themselves continuing to engage in this into the future.

The launch of Disney+ and Normal People on RTÉ was highlighted by Geraldine O'Leary. The B&A survey showed that more people have subscribed to Disney's streaming service. When asked about how streaming has affected RTÉ, Geraldine noted that Normal People had broken records for the number of streams on the RTÉ Player.

RTÉ performed well in the survey with 81% of adults trusting any RTÉ medium as a source. TV is the most trusted media among all age groups.

An Post were the company that had seen the biggest jump when respondents were asked "What brand do they think is doing well?" They increased their score by 8 percentage points vs March to 14%. Debbie Byrne said that this has reflected her on experience as the company recognised the fear and anxiety that was out there. They, in conjunction with Alone, had post men and women checking in on older people who were cocooning. This was an extension of one of their brand pillars: community.

Neal Davies from a creative side, gave great insights into the difficulty toeing the line as we move away from softer Covid-19 focused messages to more inspirational messages. He said that people, in general, are tiring of Covid-19 and want to use advertising as a form of escapism.

The webinar was an excellent opportunity to hear insights from across the industry and we would like to thank all of our panellists for their input.

If you wish to view a recording of the webinar please contact us by emailing mediasales@rte.ie.