Merlien COVID-19 Report 2020 – The Impact of the Corona Pandemic on Consumer Insight Strategies


The COVID-19 outbreak that began in December 2019 has affected millions of lives and has taken a toll on economies worldwide. Amidst the global disruption, consumer behaviour has changed drastically, causing a shift in business priorities across small, medium, and large enterprises. According to Baig et al. (2020), businesses are now more data-driven and focused on creating agility and resiliency. From a consumer research strategy perspective, this report asks: How brands are adapting their research methods and the use of technology to cope with the rapid changes in consumer behaviour?

Key Findings

Business strategies have seen a shift towards digitalisation of products and services, and innovative offerings to consumers. There is a much heavier reliance on consumer insights to guide organisations’ decision-making.

COVID-19 has caused changes in budget spends across businesses. Almost 70% have reduced their marketing budget and 56% state that their research budget has been reduced.

Businesses are relying more on consumer insights and perceive it as very important during these uncertain times. This is particularly evident in the Asia-Pacific regions (84%).

The top business functions supported by consumer insights during COVID-19 include product and service innovation (51%), new product and service launches (47%), brand management (44%) and market assessment (43%).

The top three types of research studies conducted by brands are 61% consumer behaviour tracking, 49% on customer experience and 46% product and service innovation.

The personal well-being of corporate researchers across both Europe and Asia-Pacific regions is mostly neutral or positive, with productivity increases while working from home.

Brands expect quick turnaround times from research suppliers when it comes to outsourced projects, especially for larger organisations. Existing partnerships are also a priority for larger organisations when selecting a research supplier.

Research suppliers need to address concerns from brands regarding the accuracy of data collection and the quality of responses from new methodologies.

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Jasper Lim

Jasper Lim is the CEO of Merlien Institute. He frequently reviews the state-of-art of the marketing research industry. Apart from his daily work, Jasper serves as an Editorial Board Member for the International Journal of Work Innovation. He is also an accomplished qualitative researcher with several peer-reviewed academic publications to his name.

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