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Key Takeaways

Key Takeaways

WhatsApp is universal

The leading social media channel in Spain is WhatsApp by some considerable margin. It is used by around two-thirds of the population, putting it well ahead of next-placed YouTube (53 percent penetration), as well as the next-placed chatting platform, Facebook Messenger. When it comes to more “traditional” social media, Facebook and Instagram are now neck and neck with around 40 percent penetration, and Twitter is used by about a quarter of the population. As in many other countries, TikTok is on the rise, primarily among the under-25s, and has 14 percent penetration.

People are craving real-life social interaction

Zoom calls and WhatsApp’ing has kept people going, but after months of forced isolation, most people are desperate to resume some semblance of normal life with in-person social interactions, even if they must take happen with distancing restrictions in place. There’s a deep longing to see friends and relatives, as well as to get back to the theater, cinema and concerts, to travel locally (there is less appetite for travelling abroad), and to meet people in bars and restaurants. Brands can play a role in creating safe events where these social interactions can happen, and by providing people with something to look forward to.

Media habits are adjusting

When lockdown began, television viewing shot up and internet usage soared as households looked for ways to pass the time and struggled to amuse children who were not allowed at school or outdoors. Once restrictions started to ease and people were able to return to work and pursue other interests, TV viewing and social networking and online browsing dipped, but 50 percent of people are still checking the news and blogs online, 28 percent are listening to the radio regularly, and 15 percent read a newspaper.

There’s a strong preference for ‘local’

Having seen the effects of the pandemic on the Spanish economy, and mindful of the fact that unemployment is likely to rise as the effects of the pandemic continue to suppress the all-important tourism sector, consumers want to do what they can to keep people in jobs and businesses running. Kantar research shows that 82 percent of people believe that shopping in local stores is important for the community, and over half say they’re paying more attention to the origin of the products they buy.

It’s been a time of discovery

Many people have tried products and brands in the past few months that they’d never bought before, often because their first or regular choice wasn’t available. But many are sticking with these brands, having found they’re just as good or even better, or perhaps offer better value for money than the brands they’d normally buy. This serendipity applies not just to products but also stores, particularly online. Over a third of Spanish consumers say they’ve found new online retailers that they will continue to use once normal life resumes, and 40 percent say they’ll continue to buy products and services online that they used to buy only in person.

There are millions of new shoppers

This has been a year of change, and in many households, that’s meant someone different in the family has started doing the shopping. A juggling of household roles, changes in people’s availability and even the state of their health has meant that even as restrictions eased, around a quarter of households have their shopping done by someone different now. This creates new opportunities at retail to encourage people to try new brands, and means marketing for everyday essentials should take account of the fact that the primary shopper may now be someone new.

Hygiene remains a top priority

Most people will be happy to consign their face masks to the bin when the time comes, but there’s a new appreciation of the importance of handwashing, sanitizing and other aspects of cleanliness that reduce the risk of disease transmission. Even after the peak of cases passed, two-thirds of people said they were still buying more sanitizing products than they were a month earlier, and almost three-quarters were stocking up on personal protection items like masks and gloves. For brands, there are opportunities to create zero-contact payment and delivery solutions that help take away a small amount of the stress people continue to feel about hygiene.

Health concerns are more than skin deep

As well as paying greater attention to hygiene, consumers say they also plan to take better care of their health and wellbeing. Half of Spaniards say they’ll be eating more healthily once this is over than they did before, and 40 percent plan to nourish their minds by reading more. Just over half want to make spending more time with their household part of ordinary life, and 22 percent plan to stick with working from home, at least some of the time.

High-speed connectivity promises to open new doors

The extension of 5G mobile services in Spain was halted during the COVID-19 outbreak so that providers could focus on simply keeping people connected with existing services. But it will resume, bringing with it new ways for consumers and brands to use the internet. 5G is much more than “just another G”, and offers speeds up to 20 times that of the 4G connections most people consider to be fast. This level of speed is what’s required to power “Internet of Things” devices, including connected cars. It could also provide a boost to the retail environment, making it easier for shoppers to use data-intense services such as augmented and virtual reality.

E-commerce experience needs to improve

These past few months have led many consumers to shop for groceries online for the first time. But while consensus is that supermarkets, hypermarkets and convenience stores have done a great job of managing shoppers and making stores feel as safe as possible, with helpful and friendly service, there’s less satisfaction with the online alternative. Only 42 percent of Spanish consumers believe grocery stores provide an excellent experience in their online channels.

Brands can act as a stress reliever

At the height of the crisis, people looked to brands to give them practical information and encouragement that it was possible to beat the virus, but as time went on, they looked to brands to do more. Around a quarter of people wanted help from brands in managing the new reality of everyday life, and one in 10 said brands could play a role in helping reduce consumer anxiety by understanding their concerns and responding accordingly. A small proportion said they also looked to brands to provide optimism.

Check the mood music

Brands need to be highly attuned to changes in public sentiment regarding brand advertising in the current context. Even when it seemed that the worst of the crisis was over, very few people said they felt it was appropriate for brand communications to return to what was normal pre-COVID. There was still a strong preference for seeing what brands were doing to help their employees, the community and consumers.

Listen carefully

Spanish consumers, on the whole, feel that brands are failing to listen to their feedback and act upon it. Only three out of 10 people feel brands are truly attentive to consumer feedback – much lower than the global average, which is around 50 percent. It’s time to ensure brands have channels in place to seek out consumer views and to listen to those already being shared on social networks. And, just as importantly, brands have to be prepared to act on what they hear.

There are mixed messages on motoring

This year has led many people to think more carefully about the impact their actions and decisions have on the environment. In fact, four people in 10 say environmentally friendly products and services are more relevant now than they were before the pandemic, and this is of great importance to the automotive industry and its decisions and communication around pollution. At the same time, however, they are wary about unnecessarily sharing space with large groups of other people. That’s why, as lockdown eased, over two-thirds of people in Spain said they would rather drive their own cars than use public transport.

Concerns about privacy are still strong

Consumers are nervous about how much brands know about them, and any request for personal data must demonstrate an understanding of the need for there to be a fair exchange; the customer must benefit in some way from what the brand learns from their data. This nervousness becomes especially strong on social networking messaging services, where a brand’s mere presence can make users feel their privacy has been invaded, even if they generally like the brand and its products are relevant to them. A social presence must be handled with care, in a way that puts the consumer in charge of the conversation – and gives them the option to end it.

Check in on your brand ambassadors

No, we’re not talking singers, actors or footballers. We mean your staff: potentially your greatest brand advocates and a way of attracting (or putting off) other talented people to your organisation. They’re also a hugely valuable source of knowledge when thinking about what the customer expects in terms of a seamless experience. An employee “pulse check” can help you stay close to your employees during this period of uncertainty, as well as find out from the front lines how consumers are responding to the experiences on offer.