Segmentation uncovers the unique challenges that abound during COVID-19

by April Smith | published on April 15, 2020

Consumers are facing unprecedented struggles in all aspects of their daily lives as the world faces the COVID-19 crisis. Meanwhile, corporations are wrestling with the same concerns at home, while also feeling the pressure to survive in the current environment and thrive as we transition into the post-COVID world. Without a doubt, this is a critical opportunity to enrich their knowledge of consumer behaviors and motivators.

    Seven distinct personas were revealed

    Bellomy has created a unique COVID-19 consumer segmentation based on the attitudes and behaviors of 1,110 people nationwide. We identified seven distinct segments of Americans as they adjust to the novel coronavirus pandemic and its implications. These segments embody the variety of reactions we've all likely observed or even felt in our day-to-day lives — from maintaining normalcy with little concern to feeling overwhelmed by the daily challenges.

    COVID-19 concern continuum

    Bellomy's COVID-19 spectrum of consumer sentiment and concern

    Observing these groups reveals notable behavior of Americans as they deal with the COVID-19 crisis and adapt their daily choices. We discovered segments of consumers who are hunkering down and others that are going about life as usual, insulated from (or perhaps ignoring) the crisis. In between, there are several segments of the population that are seeking to spend their time and money in the ways that provide the greatest value, joy, and satisfaction to them.

    Meet the segments

    Consumer behavior and reactions to this global pandemic are not “one-size-fits-all.” Here are seven consumer segments with unique behaviors and needs as they navigate new waters.

    1. Nonchalant

    S'all good, resolute optimists, mature rebels

    Thus far, this segment has been the least impacted — they may feel that people are overreacting. They feel any economic downturn will resolve within a couple of months and, if anything, now is the time to invest.

    meet the "nonchalant" segment

    2. Business as usual​

    Persistent budgeters, I've got other concerns, moderates

    This group reports very few changes to daily life and are less concerned about the pandemic than other consumer groups. Many are not changing behaviors unless forced to.​

    meet the "business as usual" segment

    3. Under-affected realists ​

    Practical, conservative, short-term modifiers

    This group recognizes the threat of the virus, but their daily lives are not as impacted. They recognize that there will be a global financial impact but are not as concerned about their own personal finances. They plan to shop moderately — as they normally would.​

    meet the "under-affected realists" segment

    4. Prepared and aware ​

    Big picture, the greater good, social distance and chill

    These family-oriented folks are not panicking but they are taking things seriously and staying informed. Financially comfortable — this group may be found waiting for their UberEats delivery while reading the latest news about the virus on their iPads.​

    meet the "prepared and aware" segment

    5. Going it alone​

    Cautious, diverse, single, vigilant observers

    If life was tricky before, it is much harder now. This group tends towards single parents with limited activities and very real worries about financial instability. This group is reducing costs by making major shopping and behavior changes and expects these actions to persist.​

    meet the "going it alone" segment

    6. Doom and gloom​

    Alarmed, diverse, transformed, hunkered down

    This younger crowd knows this is a crisis, and many have already been impacted by having to work from home. Opting to stay in and cook ready-made meals — they have stocked up and they are doing what they can to prevent spreading COVID-19.​

    meet the "doom and gloom" segment

    ​7. Financially fearful​

    Nervous Nellies, what next?, transfixed

    As a group with higher instances of part-time or self-employment, and a high likelihood of children in the household, this segment is hanging on by a thread. ​Not only are they stressed out from COVID-19, but they are also facing unemployment with nearly one-fourth of this group already out of work.​

    meet the "financially fearful" segment

    Opportunities persist despite current challenges

    There are many opportunities in the marketplace for companies across industries to better understand their customers and how their behaviors and attitudes are changing due to the crisis. Companies that learn and adapt now will win!

    Our research sought to understand crucial questions we've all been asking:

    • How have behaviors changed concerning managing finances?
    • Millions of people have lost their jobs. How are they filling that time now?
    • People can't go to bars, restaurants, concerts, or sporting events. How are they spending the money they’d typically spend on these events?
    • People can’t go shopping for apparel. How will they buy their clothes? And what segments are buying clothes?
    • People are cooking at home now more than they used to. Are they trying new dishes? What is working? What are they experimenting with? Will this persist?
    • People are getting food delivery more often. How are they deciding what to order and who to give their business to?
    • Who is spending time on improving their homes?

    Segments and a changing market landscape

    Consumer behavior and purchasing has changed and will continue to evolve, impacting industries across the board. Financial services, banking, shopping, food, entertainment, utilities... all will have to adapt to the quickly changing market landscape.

    Bellomy’s proven technique for segmenting consumers provides an actionable, interpretable, differentiated, and reproducible solution to help companies drive their brand performance into the future through a deeper understanding of their customers.

    Our message to our clients is we’re in it with you and you’re in it with your consumers. Now is a time of transition. It’s vital to remain calm, apply wisdom to strengthen your brand, and create value for your consumers. 

    The narrative of each consumer segment needs to be heard, considered, and acted upon, not only as companies navigate this time of crisis but also as they plan for a better relationship with consumers after the crisis has ended. Let's team up.

    Request the COVID-19 segmentation reportGet the pandemic personas at your fingertips 

    Download our PDF for insight on the seven segments of consumers we identified based on their reactions to the COVID-19 pandemic. Get a detailed breakdown of the segment profiles and learn more about how consumers' attitudes and behaviors have shifted since March.

    Download the segment report