SARS vs COVID-19: are the market changes going to be the same?


The impact on FMCG after SARS and COVID-19

When SARS knocked down China in 2002-2003 causing 774 deaths all over the world, the habits of the Chinese population have drastically changed. Now, with a balance of nearly 3600 deaths, the Coronavirus is likely to affect people’s habits once again.
Nielsen, the global measurement and data analytics company, led a research to analyse the historical impact of SARS on consumers’ behaviour as well as what could be the impact of the new COVID-19.

Key-areas of change after SARS

Source: The Nielsen Company, 2020, “DECODING COVID-19: HOW THE OUTBREAK MAY IMPACT CHINA’S FMCG AND RETAIL MARKET”.

After the outbreak of the SARS epidemic, some FMCG witnessed an important increase. Personal care and sanitizer saw an increase of 22% and 19% also for a long period after the epidemic;
Yogurt and milky drinks, had an increase of 40% and 20%, due to the preference for food richer in proteins and juices saw an increase of 22% as consumers started looking for healthier consumption habits.

How should suppliers and dealers react to the current situation?
According to Nielsen, based on previous experience with SARS, it is advisable for these categories to pre-plan production and sales post-epidemic in order to be able to react on time. Additionally, considering that in China social media carry high credibility and enjoy a large audience, manufacturers could make better use of these channels by sourcing information in real-time, stay updated and better predict their production based on developments.

Read the full report and advice here.