Does polarised consumer behaviour in China hold clues for UK on-trade recovery?
CGA’s most recent report presents the findings of research undertaken from the epicentre of the COVID-19 crisis, surveying 2,000 consumers in China’s most developed bar and restaurant markets in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, alongside Wuhan itself. The survey allows us to understand how consumers in China have reacted to the reopening of eating and drinking out establishments in the wake of lockdown.
The research suggests that consumer attitudes are starkly polarised, with an almost 50/50 split between those that have been out to eat and drink and those that haven’t. Of the 48% of consumers that have been back out, the majority reported that they had done so multiple times.
“This even split in market in which eating and drinking out which was a previously fundamental part of daily life, highlights the apprehensive nature of consumers to go out again, as well as the precautions required to persuade consumers back into the out of home market,” said Phil Tate, CGA’s Global CEO.
As with other markets, consumers are more confident about visiting eating out establishments. The venues that consumers feel most comfortable in visiting being mainstream and fine dining restaurants, followed by cafes and fast food outlets. At the other end of the scale nightclubs and leisure venues rank as the outlets that consumers feel least confident about visiting.
The research also highlights a significant group of consumers for whom eating and drinking out continues to represent a risk and who do not plan to revisit the sector in any rush. Two thirds of those yet to go out are also not planning to in the next month, with the risks of secondary and tertiary waves front of mind.
In all, 60% of consumers said that some, or all, of the venues they would typically visit had reopened post-lockdown, only to have to close again.
What can we learn?
The research from CGA delivers insight into how outlets and suppliers may need to shift strategy to adapt to new circumstances, including changes in drinking habits, the choice of where to visit and the impact on disposable income.
It also delves into broader trends which may impact the longer-term fortunes of eating and drinking out, including the acceleration of health considerations, the impact of financial hardship on premiuimisation and the renewed desire to ‘support local’.
“With so many variables and unknown factors in markets yet to fully reopen, navigating a path to recovery and building a strategy is an undoubted challenge. However, understanding a consumer perspective from an advanced market provides a glimpse into the future and allows for insight into how target consumers will react and, therefore how strategies can be tweaked for success,” added Tate.
The full China on Premises Recovery Report will be available from mid-May from CGA. Keep up to date with all the latest industry updates and useful resources for planning reopening by following CPL Learning, including our brand new Ready to Serve learning programme. Ready to Serve is under development to support operators in their reopening planning and preparation, you can read more about the new programme here.