The measures taken by these brands in response to the Coronavirus seem to be enhancing their Buzz and Impression scores among customers
The Coronavirus outbreak has affected many businesses, with the food & beverage industry being the early few to experience the impact. According to YouGov’s ongoing COVID-19 monitor, as of mid- April around two-thirds of urban Indians (64%) said they are very or fairly scared about contracting the Coronavirus.
Fear was much higher among people who have a high take out/ordering in frequency i.e. those who order food through a delivery app more than once a week, with 77% of them claiming to be worried about getting the infection, as per YouGov Profiles- an audience segmentation and planning tool.
An expected result of this outcome is a decline in Purchase Intent (how likely is one to purchase from a brand in the next 30 days) among those who were in-market to purchase food from delivery apps. YouGov BrandIndex, which monitors how media and news events impact consumer’ brand perception and purchase behaviours, shows the intention to purchase from food delivery apps gradually declined throughout March- when the outbreak first hit India, but saw a gradual increase in the last week of the month.
This naturally led to a decreased customer base for key players- Swiggy and Zomato. Between March 15th and April 16th 2020, Zomato witnessed a weakening customer base from 46.3 to 41.7, whereas for Swiggy the scores were from 48.8 to 42.4.
The pandemic further affected the Buzz scores (whether one has heard anything positive or negative about a brand in the past fortnight) of these brands, which started declining when the outbreak first hit India around early March.
In order to address the building paranoia around the virus, the food delivery platforms began an outreach programme assuring their customers about their safety measures and hygiene standards. Both Swiggy and Zomato offered services like no-contact delivery, provided necessary safety materials to their staff, and later ventured into the delivery of grocery and essential items.
The increased communication around these proactive measures in response to the Coronavirus disruption could be the reason for the gradual increase in positive Buzz around these brands in early April, bringing it back to the pre-Corona levels. The Buzz score for Zomato saw a rise from 47.5 to 50.6 between March 15th and April 16th 2020. For the same time period, after an initial slump the scores for Swiggy stabilised, with a marginal increase from 50.6 to 51.0.
Even Impression (whether one has a positive/negative impression of a brand), which took a hit initially, recovered after the introduction of these measures, up by 1.5 and 2.1 points, respectively, for Zomato and Swiggy.
As YouGov BrandIndex data shows consumers have responded positively to the brands’ initiatives to retain its customers amidst the uncertainties of COVID-19. In the weeks to come, Yougov will continue tracking how new developments are likely to affect brand perceptions within this sector.