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New findings reveal consumers want a holiday and live sustainably

What European consumers confessed through an online survey during lockdown


Consumers tell us they miss their family and friends more than dating during lockdown, they are more likely to book a holiday than buy a new mobile phone and being sustainable is more important than financial security.
As we have seen from our regular updates around consumer behaviour, COVID-19 has changed people’s lives in a way they never imagined.  Our search data provides deep insights into what people are interested in as they move through their online journey.  However, what lies ahead, is a big question to everyone, this is unknown territory for all. 
We decided to take the bull by the horns and asked almost 100,000 Bing searchers across Europe three very simple questions to understand:
  • What people were missing in lockdown
  • What they were looking forward to
  • Any changes that they will take with them into their lives ahead.

With most people in Europe moving inside and online, consumers set about finding ways to keep busy, such as - improving home environments, sourcing new ways to exercise, starting new hobbies, equipping gardens to enjoy the early summer and of course socialising with friends and family through various social distanced means. 

Going to the gym and dating are not missed during lockdown

We asked consumers across Europe, what they missed most in lockdown. Data shows that missing family and friends was five times more important than going on a date.  In the UK, consumers missed going out to restaurants, cafes, and pubs, but in France going on holiday is high on the agenda, and with the rich culture heritage it is no surprise that the Italians outpaced the other markets when stating that they missed visiting museums and other places of interest.

Graph displaying responses to the question what have you missed most in lockdown? Showing a response that being with family and friends was 5 times more important than going on a date

‘Nice to haves’ like holidays and clothes top of mind for Europeans

When asked what the first purchase post lockdown will be our findings reveal that Germans are five times more likely to buy a home and garden product than a new mobile handset. Italian and Spanish consumers rank holidays or weekend breaks high on their priority list.  As people start to venture outside and out of their leisure wear,  it is no surprise that close to a third of Europeans noted that apparel would be the first thing they would snap up.  

Graph displaying responses to the question what will be your first purchase after lockdown? Showing a response that 1 in 3 people said that apparel shopping will be first thing after lockdown

Europeans want to embrace the positive changes in their lives in the future

We asked consumers, if anything, what were they planning to change after lockdown?  Living more sustainably was the hands down winner across all markets with one in four selecting this when looking at Europe as a whole.  A movement that was already gaining motion has now been given more focus.  Staying in, eating well, and flying less - has the virus taught us a renewed consciousness of the world around us, or was this top of mind before COVID-19 set in?  We knew before COVID-19 that 60%+ of Millennials and Gen Zers expressed preference for brands that support a social cause (US, Western Europe) and 92% of consumers say they have a more positive image of a company when the company supports a social or environmental issues.  According to the GlobalWebIndex, almost three in four people globally say it is now more important to them that companies embrace sustainability, since before COVID-19.  Whilst we all know this is right for our future, is this the catalyst we needed to make this the new normal?  Brands and advertisers need to consider carefully how they market and present their brands and products in the future.

Graph displaying responses to the question what are you planning to change after lockdown? Showing a response that 1 in 4 people selected live more sustainably

As many people took to work from home, it appears that they want the experience to continue and consumers are still looking for a better work life balance.  In France, Germany, United Kingdom and Spain, consumers are focused more on changing career, working from home, and even buying a new home than joining a gym.  In Italy, however, being more financially secure has far more importance than other markets.
Joining a gym or fitness program has the lowest interest across all markets.  Does this mean that consumers have already found an alternative that suits them or is it simply that there are new priorities in life today?
The surveyed consumers are clearly optimistic about what lies ahead.  They are looking to get back to things, like seeing family, visiting restaurants, and going on holidays.  Advertisers should continue to inspire these consumers to drive brand loyalty so when they are ready you are top of mind.

The poll ran across Microsoft Rewards where users were able to opt into responding to the questions.  Responders - UK (41,979), Germany (14,929), France (16,167), Italy (14,506) and Spain (8,859), reaching a total of 96,440  across a three week period (1st May – 22nd May). Each question had a multiple-choice response to it, where active users could select one single answer.