Buyer the day after tomorrow. Russian consumer moods and expectations.

Romir, research company
on 06/04/2020

Evaluation and analysis of impact of COVID-19 on changes in consumer behavior in FMCG and retail market at the level of an average Russian customer.

Why was the research conducted?

Current global and local events related to the announcement of the pandemics and the spread of COVID-19 inevitably lead to the changes in the mood, expectations and, consequently, in the behavioral patterns of Russian consumers.
It sparks off strong fluctuations which one can currently observe in the FMCG and retail market and which often defy rational and logical explanations.
This puts us before the necessity to study and monitor current situation with the further opportunity to analyze the transformations of all aspects of life of a Russian consumer.

How was the research conducted?

Weekly wave survey with panelists of Romir Scan Panel

What are the key findings of the research?

Air traffic suspension as a result of the spread of the pandemic, as well as the possibility of a limited air traffic within the country, affects the plans of the population. Between March, 27th and April, 2nd, the share of Russians who have to cancel their vacations to due the coronavirus pandemic, increased by 11% (from 19% to 30%). Similar tendency can be found among the population of Moscow: about 38% cancelled their vacations (vs. 27% during March, 18th-26th).

Plans for funds that were not spent on vacation have not changed: the population plans to either save the funds till the next vacation (42%), or do nothing with them, keep them as an “emergency fund” (29%).

The share of the working population shifted to remote work increased significantly between March, 27th and April, 2nd: there were 10% of such respondents a week before, now it is about 17%. In Moscow, the scores are even higher: currently it is 29%, while during the previous week (March, 18th – 26th) there were only 11% of such employees. This fact reflects the self-isolation restrictions introduced in Moscow. Such restrictions were not introduced in all the regions yet.

The main drawbacks of shifting to the home office mode are related to the lack of physical activity (39%). Russians also highlight the general decrease in their effectiveness (33%).
Russian citizens started monitoring macroeconomic trends less: while during the first week of the study (March, 18 – 26) about 75% of population followed the exchange rate, the share decreased to 70% during the second wave. Health issues are #1 topic which replaces others in the information agenda among the population. Moreover, peak exchange rates could already have passed, which explains the decreasing interest in the currency. There is a growing number of Moscow population interested in the exchange rate (from 73% to 80%), which may occur due to the higher level of income and expenses in general which make people monitor the economic situation.

There were changes in the frequency of use of food delivery services. Russians reduced the use of restaurant food delivery services: 5% during the first wave of the survey against 8% in the current one. Muscovites, on the other hand, started using food delivery services more frequently (10% in the second wave vs. 3% in the first). Such services are better developed in Moscow, which increases the demand for food delivery among the population during self-isolation period.

As for pet food delivery, this category also faces the declining use of delivery services. Respondents are more concerned about their own health and think less about their pets’ nutrition. In addition, mass purchases of goods in hypermarkets could have included pet food.

There are no even changes in the use of online clothing stores. On the one hand, the share of those who stopped using these services grew (from 8% to 13%). On the other hand, the share of Russians who did not use the services but started doing so increased as well (from 1% to 3%). The redistribution of demand for such services is natural, since one part of population decreases its spending, while another one orders clothes as leisure/entertainment.

Online services for drug reservation also became less popular among Russians (+3% stopped using such services). On April, 1st, the Russian government approved online sale of drugs in case of epidemics and emergencies only. The downfall of the use of such services stems from their underdevelopment: instead of safer courier delivery, there is a need for self-delivery of pharmaceuticals from pharmacies followed by the risking of interacted with the ill.

Significant changes occurred to the frequency of use of taxi: about 16% (against 7% in the 1st wave) noted that they stopped using such services. There are similar changes with regards to car sharing. However, in Moscow, the share of people who use car sharing as frequently as before has decreased (20% in the 1st wave and 13% in the current one). Self-isolation and restriction of movement in the capital and the regions has a negative effect on the volume of demand for such services.

The share of population following self-isolation rules increased between March, 27th and April, 2nd. Thus, the perception of leisure changed among Russian citizens. A week ago, a share of Russians who did not see the changes in their own leisure activities was about half of the respondents (47%). During the period between March, 27th and April, 2nd, their share decreased to 32%. The changes in Moscow are even more drastic: 53% (1st wave) vs 22% (2nd wave).

The variety of leisure activities did not undergo significant changes. The shares of those who replaced their visits to the cinema with watching movies at home (+8%), and those who started doing exercises at home as a replacement to the gym (+6%) increased evenly. The lack of physical activity noted by the working population may correlate with the growth of people engaged in physical activity. More people living in Moscow say that they rest and sleep more (12%).

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Contributor's Name: Ksenia Payzanskaya