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Vaccine scepticism indicates slower route to normality: survey

InternationalJan 26. 2021

By The Nation

Economies have been hit hard by Covid-19 and vaccines have been touted as a fix to return to pre-pandemic economic stability. However, nearly two-thirds or 64 per cent of consumers surveyed said they will not take a vaccination immediately, a survey from NielsenIQ showed.

Released on Tuesday, this survey also highlights people’s hesitation in changing their spending habits even as the vaccine rollout gains ground.

The vaccines also bring hope that many consumers will drop their deeply cautious approach toward spending during the pandemic.

Of those surveyed, 16 per cent said they will spend more on groceries, compared to 12 per cent who said they will spend less and the vast majority who said they will spend the same after the vaccine is made widely available.

To date, 72 per cent of consumers have been careful with their spending habits due to the impact of Covid-19, which suggests it will take a long time to reverse consumer habits and attitudes.

“The conversation surrounding the vaccine has been dominated by logistics: drug administration approvals, speed of production rates, countries vying to secure enough doses to vaccinate their populations, and most recent concerns around scaling and speeding up the rollout in countries around the world,” said Scott McKenzie, NielsenIQ’s global intelligence chief.

“Confidence levels around the vaccines and desire to take the vaccines certainly may change as countries begin more concerted rollouts and deliver education campaigns. But clear signals indicate that the arrival of vaccines won’t automatically flip a switch to put the world back on its pre-Covid path.”

Health concerns remain prominent even when vaccines become available, as more than half of consumers lack confidence in dining out (58 per cent), attending live sporting events (65 per cent) or travelling overseas (70 per cent) even upon confirmation of the timing when they could be inoculated.

Financial worries still loom large, with half of consumers (52 per cent) saying they won’t be confident in their personal finances despite being vaccinated.

During the earlier months of the pandemic, NielsenIQ analysis dissected how the pandemic forced many consumers to reset their shopping baskets, rationale, affordability gauge and homebody approach.

And now, as private and government forces reckon with the task of producing and rolling out vaccine doses, this latest survey conducted across 15 countries, provides context on challenges to returning to pre-pandemic economic stability.

Of the consumers who don’t plan to take the vaccine immediately, 41 per cent said they will wait for some time, while 12 said they won’t take it at all. Just over a third (36 per cent) indicated that they will take it right away, while 11 per cent remain undecided.

Thai consumers appear to be positive as more than half, or 53 per cent of those surveyed said they were confident of returning to work once vaccines are rolled out. Also, 32 per cent said they will spend more on saving and investment and 29 per cent would spend on out-of-home dining once the vaccine becomes widely available.

Conducted in December 2020, NielsenIQ surveyed more than 11,000 consumers across 15 countries, including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, UAE, UK and the US.

NielsenIQ provides manufacturers and retailers with insights on the changing marketplace.

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