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Nielsen: Homebody Economy Gains Steam amid Epidemic


BEIJING, March 19, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 global measurement and data analytics company Nielsen recently released a study on the homebody economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The study surveyed consumers during the epidemic, and analyzed the "homebody economy" to discover new consumption trends.

Justin Sargent, president of Nielsen China, said: "The Chinese government rapidly responded to the epidemic by rolling out a series of comprehensive health and safety measures, effectively containing the virus. The moves have greatly strengthened the Chinese people's confidence in overcoming the crisis."

"Although home quarantine restricts people from going out, it makes staying at home a new way of life and thus boosts the 'homebody economy'. Online shopping, online education and working from home have developed rapidly. As such, 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," Sargent said.

Stable supply boosts confidence in fighting off the virus

As the COVID-19 has been gradually contained, the Chinese consumers' confidence in battling against the virus continues to improve. 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. The results showed that 82 percent of consumers approved of the way transparent information was disclosed during the epidemic.

Stable and sufficient supply of safety materials is essential for fighting off the disease. In the meanwhile, the fact that consumers stay at home and enjoy their life has further stabilized their confidence in controlling the contagion. During the epidemic, efficient and fast online shopping has met daily consumption needs of residents. Diversified online entertainment and other applications continue to serve as entertainment and leisure. In addition, spending more time with family members, friends and pets has also been positive for a large part of the population.

According to the Nielsen study, 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. 

At the same time, although home quarantine has restricted people from outdoor activities, it can be seen that contactless delivery services like O2O fresh food platforms helped guarantee normal daily life. These contactless services and online shopping made life convenient for consumers while also contributing to the success of disease prevention.

Healthy and technology-driven homebody economy grows from the epidemic

During the epidemic, concerns and discussions among consumers on leisure and entertainment, family life, working from home and studying increased significantly. Self-quarantine has made staying at home a grand public occasion. 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.

The Nielsen survey showed consumers had strong demand for daily necessities and fresh products during the epidemic. Nearly 70 percent of the respondents purchased daily necessities / fresh products more than twice a week, and over 80 percent of them shopped online. Home quarantine has further cultivated consumers' online shopping habits, with 89 percent of the respondents said they will be more willing to buy daily necessities / fresh products online once the pandemic is over.

Affected by COVID-19, schools in China have delayed reopening, and companies postponed work resumption. Online classrooms and "cloud" offices became buzzwords. The Nielsen survey showed that during the epidemic, 94.1 percent of the respondents held a positive / neutral attitude towards home office, while 83 percent of them believed that working from home was as efficient as in the office. In the meanwhile, homebodies didn't forget to recharge themselves, which has also led to a surge in demand for online education. The survey showed 93 percent of consumers had a positive / neutral attitude towards taking online courses and regarded it as a routine "source of happiness." Fifty-five percent of them considered reading as an entertainment activity at home while 81 percent took online courses to recharge themselves.

Consumers in quarantine had stronger health consciousness during the epidemic. According to Nielsen's research, 80 percent of the surveyed said they would pay attention to eating healthy even after the epidemic is over. Seventy-five percent of the respondents said they would spend more on sports / fitness in the future, while 60 percent of them said they would increase spending on regular medical examinations. Fifty-nine percent of the surveyed said they would buy more insurance.

In the meantime, homebodies embarked on a buying spree of smart health products. Nielsen found that 90 percent, 93 percent, and 77 percent of the respondents, respectively, have already purchased or plan to buy air purifiers, water purifiers or smart bracelets. In addition, consumers preferred fitness products embedded with more technology. One hot new item during the virus outbreak has been a fitness tracking ring. Almost all were sold out even though the price rose to 2,000 yuan ($285.57) from 600 yuan ($85.47).

"We have seen China's rising awareness of fitness for some time now, however increased health consciousness under this epidemic is markedly different. We see that consumers' understanding of health is more multi-dimensional. They are no longer limited to traditional areas like safe hygiene and healthy eating, but are further adopting technology-enabled smart health. 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.

"Brands and retailers that focus their efforts on this quickly emerging health trend are likely to see consumers respond with increased demand during the epidemic. Hygienic and safe product concepts, as well as tech-enabled health, will help brands resonate with consumers during this period."

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. 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 can be used in virtual shopping scenarios in the future. The Nielsen survey also showed that women were more concerned with smart and technology products than men. Generally, compared with men, women had stronger willingness to buy intelligent products, ranging from such home accessories as smart speakers and home theater to big-ticket items like smart vehicles.

Brand owners grasp opportunity brought by homebody economy

The 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 will be the general trend of future development.

The popularity of online services like shopping for fresh food, cloud office, 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.

Additionally, brand owners should pay attention to consumers' expanding demand for smart devices and health products. Issues that brands and retailers should consider include how they can seize this trend regarding new consumption, explore and unleash spending power, launch new products and services that are compatible with tech-driven and health concepts, and expedite brand upgrades.

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

About Nielsen

Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global measurement and data analytics company that provides a comprehensive understanding of what consumers Watch and Buy. Nielsen's Watch segment provides media and advertising clients with Total Audience measurement services across all devices where content—video, audio and text—is consumed. The Buy segment offers consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers the industry's only global view of retail performance measurement. By integrating information from its Watch and Buy segments and other data sources, Nielsen provides its clients with both world-class measurement as well as analytics that help improve performance.  Nielsen, an S&P 500 company, has operations in over 100 countries that cover more than 90% of the world's population. For more information, visit

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