Life during the pandemic: four unexpected behavioural trends in Asia-Pacific countries
Such are the societal consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and the speed at which events have unfolded, that playful variations on the calendar terms BC and AD have begun to appear in the press: if 2020 is the year of the coronavirus, then BC now stands for Before Coronavirus; AD has been replaced with AC, which stands for After Coronavirus.
In this blog post, we focus on events occurring during the pandemic, that is, the DC (During Coronavirus) era, adopting another new acronym in the process. Specifically, we identify digital content categories which saw an unexpected uplift in activity in the January to April 2020 period in Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
Trend 1: The DC era is a time to slow down and read
At a time when the range of media and entertainment that provides 24/7 instant gratification seems endless, a surprising trend is the increased interest in books. As the table below shows, time spent per visitor on book retail sites and apps has increased significantly in most APAC countries. Global players such as Scribd.com and Google Play Books capture a significant share of the activity, but in some countries, local players dominate the market – for example Duokan in China, Kodansha or Rakuten Books in Japan.
Trend 2: The DC era is a time to reflect
In line with the return to old-fashioned books, there has been a return to pursuits of the mind. As the table below shows, time spent on sites or apps in the ‘Religion/Spirituality’ category has increased in most countries in the Asia-Pacific region. In each country, most of the increased activity is captured by sites that are aligned with the country’s dominant faith.
Trend 3: A healthy mind in a healthy body is one of the tenets of the DC era
Whilst the first two trends reflect preoccupations of the mind, the third trend reflects an increased interest in matters about health and fitness. In Asia as elsewhere, people cooped up at home had to re-engineer their weekly exercise routines, and this is reflected in the table below: with the exception of India and Japan, time spent on fitness and diet-related sites or apps increased significantly. This is perhaps related to the fact that India implemented a strict nationwide lockdown during the month of April 2020. Similarly, Japan declared a state of emergency on April 7, 2020. Note that this category includes both fitness-related apps, such as StepSetGo in India, as well as sites such as Women's Health Magazine in Australia.
Trend 4: In the DC era, there’s nothing like home, sweet home
Consumers elsewhere in the world have turned to home improvement projects during the lockdowns, and consumers in the Asia-Pacific region are no exception. This is reflected in the table below: time spent on home improvement and decoration sites or apps increased significantly in the January to April 2020 period. Examples include Impiana in Malaysia, 17house.com in China, or Houzz in India. Will the consumers come out of the lockdown with such improved homes that they never want to leave? Unlikely. But for home improvement retailers, a new era may well begin.