Outbreak changes purchasing habits

Outbreak changes purchasing habits

People turning to online buying

Online searches for masks, hand sanitiser gel and alcohol-based gel have grown by thousands of percentage points in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, says Priceza, a price comparison shopping website.

The company said the top product searched on its platform after the outbreak was masks, gaining 2,600% between February 2019 and February 2020.

A package of 50 masks usually costs 46 baht, but the price has soared to 800-1,200 baht. One mask costs 14-20 baht, prompting the government to try to rein in prices.

Hand sanitiser gel ranks second with year-on-year growth of 8,000% in February, followed by alcohol-based gel with growth of 5,000%.

Fourth place is held by instant noodles with growth of 84%, followed by tinned fish with a gain of 19%.

Rising demand for the latter two products suggest people are stocking up on food in the face of the outbreak.

Citing research firm Kantar, which surveyed 3,000 respondents in Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan, Priceza said 60% are concerned about financial security and safety after the coronavirus outbreak.

Some 46% said they were worried about falling sick, 34% believe the impact of the Covid-19 crisis will be worse than an economic recession, with the risk of people losing jobs, while 30% are concerned about a lack of necessities.

Priceza said the outbreak has fuelled changes in people's purchasing habits as more people choose to stay home. Sales at physical retail shops have dropped by 35%, but online purchases are up 32%.

Priceza pointed out that online businesses are answering market demand.

"If you have a physical shop, you should be prepared to create plans to increase channels where consumers can purchase products online, reducing risk from the outbreak spread," Priceza said.

The trend was echoed by e-commerce service provider aCommerce, which uses BrandIQ as a tool to measure the e-commerce market.

The study looked at data from Asia's top marketplace from the first week of the outbreak until the beginning of March to gauge the impact on people's purchasing behaviour, it said. As anticipated, every category connected to self-cleaning, healthcare and virus protection has seen massive growth in sales.

Sales of thermometers grew 705% in the outbreak period. "This reflects consumers' responsibility to ensure their safety," aCommerce said in its report. "Hand care products including sanitisers and soap also experienced significant uplift."


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