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Global survey reveals increased caution among travellers when choosing destinations

Data and analytics firm GfK conducted a Consumer Pulse study for a deeper understanding of current and future consumer behaviours, lifestyles, and moods across 30 markets globally, including Saudi Arabia.

Polling between 500 to 1000 consumers from each market, bi-weekly, the findings of the GfK study cover areas such as spending habits, media and product consumption and travel and mobility trends.

“Consumers around the world are facing unprecedented challenges as the COVID-19 crisis continues to disrupt their employment, travel and lifestyles. The resulting anxiety and uncertainty from these disruptions have also brought about significant adjustment to their habits and future plans. GfK’s study investigates key areas such as shopping, travel and use of online tools to gauge the impact on perceptions, mood and behaviours in various industries. These insights identify signs of disruption to brands so that opportunities and risks are seen early and managed effectively,” says Rahul Dixit, Head of Digital Research, Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan (MENAP), GfK.

Saudi Arabia consumers are concerned about COVID-19, the economy and employment, but are optimistic. The initial survey data collected during week of April 20, indicates that 46 per cent of polled households anticipate an improvement in the Kingdom’s economy and in their own finances over the next 12 months, while a third expect the current status quo to remain. Polls signify confidence in the government and National Health authorities as well as WHO.

Data highlights opportunities and threats to brands in the current situation as 28 percent of consumers encountered out-of-stock products and 24 percent confirmed trial of new brands.

According to GfK Point of Sales tracking in Saudi Arabia, the technical consumer goods market garnered increased sales, driven by higher frequency of home cooking and greater levels of attention to cleanliness.

New practices such as home schooling and working from home led to the biggest increase in demand in the IT sector in March 2020, recording a growth in sales value by a third compared to March 2019. Media tablets led this growth with its 70 percent spike in sales value. Mobile computing also grew by nearly 20 percent in March.

Forced confinement has whetted the appetite for travel. Over seven in 10 of all respondents are already thinking of splurging on their next holiday. However, there is a measure of caution in choosing destinations due to the turn of events.

Two thirds of those polled prefer to stay within the country or travel to nearby destinations. Social distancing norms seem to have an impact on choice of transportation mode: private cars are the preferred mode of transport followed by domestic and international flights, while cruise, trains and rental cars are the least preferred options.

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