With the Covid-19 crisis showing no signs of abating, and travel restrictions and panic buying becoming common across the globe, we at Syno began to wonder how different countries in APAC are reacting to this epidemic. Recently, we conducted an APAC-focused study, where we asked respondents in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, and Australia about their consumer behavior and changes in their workplace. Naturally, considering the size of the epidemic, there were many similarities between the countries, but there were also stark differences in how people are responding.
- Survey Parameters and Design
- Workplace Changes in Response to Covid-19
- Consumption Changes in Responses to Covid-19
- Travel Pattern Changes in Response to Covid-19
Survey Parameters and Design
Syno regularly conducts global omnibus studies as a part of our Syno Answers product line. Run every two weeks with respondents in over 80 countries, we pool various client questions together to offer a lower-cost way to conduct global research. This time, we asked 500 respondents each in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, and Australia their sentiments towards Covid-19 between March 19th and the 23rd.
Workplace Changes in Response to Covid-19
Our first question asked respondents what kind of workplace measures were being taken by their employers. In this, we asked:
What measures has your company/organization undertaken due to the Covid-19 (New Coronavirus) outbreak?
Looking at the results, it was interesting that most workplaces have instituted physical or temperature checks.
Following health checks, the next most popular responses were bans on overseas business travel, bans on company dinners, and switching to teleworking—all of which indicate a move towards reducing contact with others per health organization guidelines. Fortunately, at the time of this survey, employee reductions and firings were still relatively small. Should travel and company dinners be restricted for long though, it is probably that staff reductions, especially in the travel and hospitality industries, will become inevitable.
Consumption Changes in Responses to Covid-19
Our next question, which is a repeat of a question we asked in our last Syno Answers Global Omnibus study ([Syno Trend] The COVID-19 Outbreak and Consumer Sentiment), asked about consumption and shopping habits. Although the countries surveyed this time were different, there were many similar consumer trends.
In particular, most countries saw huge changes in purchasing behavior—especially for masks and hand sanitizer—though the numbers for Australia and Singapore were more modest. As before, the question was:
Has the current covid-19 (new corona virus) outbreak affected your purchasing behavior?
When compared with our previous study, there were many more people who were increasing their purchases of food and personal care items—especially for those countries or regions closer to mainland China. Though the countries surveyed are different, it can probably be assumed that much of this change is due to the increasing alarm that many people are feeling towards the outbreak.
There were also some interesting trends when the data is broken down by gender:
Interestingly, though the numbers were roughly the same, men tended to change their purchasing behavior more than women, with the exception of Thailand. Perhaps it is because they outnumber women in the workforce, or are more fearful of the outbreak. Whatever the reason, both genders showed significant changes.
Broken down by age, it was interesting that working-aged people tended to purchase more than the young and the old—breaking the 40% mark. Perhaps this is a reflection of income, but it could also be a reflection that they are more likely to be out and about in society, and have a need for things like masks and hand sanitizer.
Travel Pattern Changes in Response to Covid-19
Our last question was about travel pattern changes. Like our consumption question, we also asked this in our previous article. Since our previous article however, significant restrictions have been implemented globally regarding travel, with many tens of thousands of flights canceled. Everyone knows that the travel industry has been badly affected, but to what extent has the damage been? In our survey we asked:
Has the current covid-19 (new corona virus) outbreak affected your travel plans for the next 6 months?
Naturally, many people had no travel plans at all. At the time of the survey, worry about Covid-19 had already spread widely, so it is likely that people have stopped making travel plans. Interestingly, the number of those who have cancelled or changed plans far exceeds those who are thinking of changing plans. Clearly, the impact of Covid-19 is already being felt far and wide. Overall, Asia travel was the most likely to be canceled, though in Thailand and mainland China, domestic travel was also widely affected.
It is also important to note that this data was collected just before the Tokyo Olympics were officially postponed to 2021. Prior to the announcement less than 10% of people had changed their plans for the Olympics, though this number is most certainly higher now.
It is clear from both the daily news and from this data that the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak is getting more and more serious every day. Work restrictions are becoming more onerous, and shopping and travel behaviors are changing drastically. Within the countries and regions we surveyed, those closer to the outbreak were the most changed, though it is likely that all countries—including Australia and Singapore—will be even more changed at the time of this writing. We will be conducting further studies to understand these trends, and hopefully will be seeing a return to normalcy sooner rather than later.
If you are interested in more detailed data breakdowns, or would like to conduct your own global research study, whether about Covid-19 or some other topic, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
About SynoAnswers International Omnibus
SynoAnswers International Omnibus is a solution where individual questions from different clients are pooled together to ideal length surveys (ca 4-8 minutes) and asked to qualified respondents across the world as online interviews. By pooling individual questions from different clients together, we are able to ask a nationally representative selection of 1,000 panelists questions at a reasonable rate. Questionnaires run every two weeks, and pricing includes translation and reporting.
Headquartered in Vilnius, Lithuania, with employees and full-time consultants across eleven offices in Europe, North America, and East and Southeast Asia, Syno International provides clients a cloud-based, consumer Data-as-a-Service (DaaS) platform—enabling data-driven organizations to make better business decisions through access to 3D people profiles. Syno International’s clients include market research agencies, management consultancies, media agencies, brands, and publishers. For additional information, please visit www.syno.com.sg