• Limited enthusiasm across Europe for returning to work and school…but they do long for a holiday
  • Spanish consumers are most fearful of COVID-19 exposure; while Germans are least fearful
  • Over-65s in the UK set to be front of the queue when professional hair and beauty reopens

While social distancing has become the new norm, the COVID-19 outbreak is reminding people about the importance of friends and family, according to new research from Mintel.

Across Europe, consumers unanimously agree that staying in touch with friends and family is now a higher priority* than before the outbreak. According to Mintel research, British (57%) and French (55%) consumers are the most likely to be in agreement, followed by Italian (47%) and Spanish (46%) consumers. While still a high priority, German (38%) and Polish (34%) consumers are the least likely to be leaning more on their family and friends.

The COVID-19 outbreak has brought concern over health risks and lifestyle changes to the fore, as Mintel research reveals that health and wellbeing are increasing priorities for all Europeans, especially exercise and healthy eating.

From in-home fitness to a newfound interest in cycling and jogging, around a third of British (34%), French (33%) and Italian (32%) consumers say doing exercise is a higher priority* than before the outbreak. This is followed by around a quarter of Spanish (27%) and Polish (24%) consumers and a fifth of German (19%) consumers. Meanwhile, healthy eating is a higher priority* for almost two in five (37%) French, a third (34%) of Italian, three in 10 British (31%), Polish (29%), and Spanish (29%), and just over one in five German (22%) consumers.

Jack Duckett, Associate Director of Consumer Lifestyles Research at Mintel, said:

“With the COVID-19 outbreak posing a profound risk to people’s health, lifestyles, and, in some cases, even their lives, it follows that many are reconsidering their priorities as they question what really matters in life. For many Europeans, staying in touch with friends and family has proved a lifeline during the lockdown period. Mental health has been high on the agenda and consumers have been encouraged to reach out and stay in touch with each other, including some high profile national campaigns in the UK, like ITV’s ‘Britain Get Talking‘ campaign.

“In terms of physical wellbeing during the current crisis, while healthy living has largely become a higher priority among already health-focused younger adults, older consumers and seniors are far from complacent. Their heightened vulnerability could see a revolution in this generation’s healthy behaviours, particularly when it comes to being more physically active.”

No rush to go back to work and school – but holidays are high priority

With the summer holidays almost upon us, Europeans are in desperate need of a break away from home. Going on holiday** features in the top three things that Polish (38%), Italian (34%), German (33%), Spanish (30%), British (28%), and French (27%) consumers are most looking forward to doing once restrictions are relaxed.

Mintel research reveals that going back to work and school is much less appealing for Europeans. As the first European nation to go into lockdown, Italian (17%) consumers are the most likely to say they are looking forward to returning to work and school**. Germans are the least excited, with fewer than one in 10 (9%) enthusiastic about the prospect of returning to the office and school. Around one in seven Polish (15%) consumers say they are most looking forward to returning to work and school, followed by 14% of Spanish, and just over one in 10 French (13%)  and British (13%) consumers.

This comes as Mintel research reveals that Spanish consumers are noticeably the most fearful in terms of being exposed to the virus, some 40% of whom are extremely worried about this. Despite the high rates of mortality across Europe, British (23%) consumers are almost half as likely as Spanish consumers to be extremely concerned about exposure. German consumers are most noticeably the least concerned about being exposed, with just 12% expressing extreme worry. Meanwhile, around a quarter of French (23%) consumers are extremely worried about this, followed by a fifth of Italian (20%) and Polish (19%) consumers.

Jack Duckett, Associate Director of Consumer Lifestyles Research at Mintel, said:

“Many consumers are still very worried about being exposed to the novel coronavirus, and the risk it poses to their and their family’s health. For many, returning to work means a return to public transport and air conditioned offices – all of which feel too risky at this point in time. It is also important to remember that Europe has been through an extremely intense period of anxiety, and so it is little wonder that so many are excited for a break, particularly given that lockdown measures kept many from enjoying a warm, sunny spring.”

Growing desire for professional hair and beauty services among Brits

Finally, DIY hair disasters have been much talked about over the lockdown period; however, some European nations are starting to reopen salons. While the reopening of hairdressers is not expected to be soon in the UK, Brits unruly locks are driving demand as a quarter (25%) of consumers say they are most looking forward to visiting a hairdresser or barber once social distancing measures are eased, up from less than one in five (19%) who said the same at the end of April***. British women (34%) are twice as likely as men (17%) to be longing for the professional touch; meanwhile, over-65s (43%) are likely to be at the front of the queue once salons re-open.

Jack Duckett, Associate Director of Consumer Lifestyles Research at Mintel, said:

“As time goes by, and DIY haircuts become less of a novelty, Mintel data shows a rise in the proportion of consumers who include going to the hairdresser/beautician in their shortlist of activities they are most looking forward to after lockdown ends. In anticipation of re-opening, many hairdressers have already set up waiting lists, while others are exploring virtual consultations that could yet prove a useful additional form of client engagement and revenue for stylists in future.”

*Q: “Since the COVID-19 outbreak, have your priorities changed for the following?” GB fieldwork: 7-14 May 2020; Europe fieldwork: 6-13 May 2020

**Q: “What are you most looking forward to doing once the current social distancing measures are relaxed?” (Consumers were asked to select up to 3.) GB fieldwork: 7-14 May 2020; Europe fieldwork: 6-13 May

***Q: “What are you most looking forward to doing once the current social distancing measures are relaxed?” (Consumers were asked to select up to 3.) GB fieldwork: 16-23 April 2020

Über die Mintel Germany GmbH

Mintel is the expert in what consumers want and why. As the world’s leading market intelligence agency, our analysis of consumers, markets, new products and competitive landscapes provides a unique perspective on global and local economies. Since 1972, our predictive analytics and expert recommendations have enabled our clients to make better business decisions faster. Our purpose is to help businesses and people grow. To find out how we do that, visit mintel.com.

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