For days we have not heard of anything else in the various media, from television to radio, to the web: the spread of COVID-19 in the world and in particular in Italy, one of the first countries to be heavily hit in Europe , has had repercussions deep on citizens’ habits, with significant consequences on different aspects of everyone’s life. Some data, therefore, already try to show the impact of coronavirus on consumption , from using the Internet to shopping.

LET’S STAY HOME, ALL CONNECTED: THE TRAFFIC BOOM IN ITALY

If we refer in particular to the Italian case, the obligation to stay at home and to go out only in cases of extreme necessity, imposed by the decree “I stay at home”, could only have great implications on the digital consumption habits  of users.

The consequences certainly include the increase in Internet connections . Since the release of the decree of 8 March, in fact, there has been an increase in traffic of 25%: «we are constantly above the terabit per second, it means that we are exchanging one thousand billion bits  per second, which corresponds to a huge quantity of information is our historical record », explained Valeria Rossi, general manager of the Milano Internet Exchange, the data interconnection center through which 20% of the traffic in Italy passes.

However, the increase in people working remotely did not put the network under pressure. In fact, as declared by Fastweb, the increase in daytime traffic did not generate any type of problem, while  video on demand and gaming activities  ” can generate some critical issues, especially in the evening hours “. Indeed, the launch in the last few days of some very popular games among young people and the large number of downloads by users has caused a slowdown in connections : according to data provided by the company, online gaminghas experienced a really significant increase in the past few days. In particular, on March 12 the ” Call of Duty Warzone ” video game was released for free and in just 24 hours it exceeded 6 million players, as reported on the game’s Twitter profile.

The numbers are truly impressive. Fastweb speaks of an increase in traffic that usually occurs in a whole year and that instead occurred in just one day: the group reports an increase from the normal peaks of 2.5 Terabit per second in the evening to 3.2 Terabit. Similar data are reported by Vodafone and Tim (who speaks of a doubling of traffic compared to the period before the crisis ). Although all operators have ruled out the  possibility  of a ” blackout “, reassuring users that the network will withstand this overload, in recent days the giants of technology (such as Facebook and YouTube) and the European Commission have already reacted to the strong increase indigital consumption .

IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS ON MEDIA CONSUMPTION

In general, media consumption has increased on all channels, according to data presented in Kantar’s “COVID-19 Barometer” , a study conducted on more than 25,000 consumers from over 30 countries. In addition to the huge increase in web traffic (corresponding to 70%) and TV consumption (63%), the use of social media would also have increased by 61% , with WhatsApp to guide the applications that find greater increases in the use (40%).

Just about the exponential increase in the use of these platforms Mark Zuckerberg spoke in recent days, alerting about the potential consequences: the president, as well as CEO, of Facebook explained that if the traffic peaks recorded in Italy began to affect even the other countries of the world, this could jeopardize the functioning of the servers and therefore the company would be working to equip and enhance its infrastructures.

In the meantime, the company had to take measures regarding its most used platform, namely Whatsapp, reducing the maximum duration of the videos that can be shared in “State” from 30 to 15 seconds : a decision, this one, currently carried ahead only in India , another country in “lockdown” where the detected number of users is particularly high.

HOME ENTERTAINMENT AND SMART WORKING

As regards , specifically, the search for different forms of entertainment , as mentioned above, there has been a significant increase in the consumption of video games and, among the many on demand content  sought in the last few days, there are those of P0rnHub, the adult site that released data on peak traffic (an increase of 13.8%) verified on March 11 in Italy, as well as in many other countries in Europe and in the rest of the world.

Obviously, similar growth has been recorded in a general way on the various streaming platforms , with the consequent effects already mentioned and leading to a position taken by the European Commission . Thus, Netflix , Amazon , Disney , YouTube and Facebook have decided to respond to the institution’s appeal by reducing the quality of streaming in Europe and thus trying to limit the overload of the network.

In our country there is also a significant increase in television ratings in the last few days , as can be seen from the graph in the Inmediato Mediaplus report, based on Auditel data, which illustrates the relationship between the increase in the number of cases of infections and television viewing.

This is also confirmed by the data relating to the week from 8 to 15 March, released by the Observatory of the Phrase Study : while a peak was recorded during the communication of Prime Minister Conte , at 9.50 pm on 11 March (the most watched minute since 2014, with 32.7 million listeners), the measures taken by the government have led to an exponential growth in television ratings . In fact, on March 15 there were an average of 15.5 million citizens with the TV on in Italy for a record time of 381 minutes (compared to the 10 million counted on February 21), as reported by ANSA.

In addition to the significant demand for information content and home entertainment, it has also grown l ‘ use of applications and systems useful for the conduct of the work remotely like Hangouts Meet or Google Classroom.

In general, however, the use of apps to make video calls has significantly increased in the days between 23 February and 14 March, according to XChannel ‘s analysis of the main tools sought by users on Google  for video calls , which have become a medium of privileged communication in a period in which one tries to “reduce distances” while at home.

Obviously these changes were recorded globally, starting from China, where the epidemic started: in the first two weeks of February, after the government decreed isolation measures across the country, a peak of 40 was found % in the weekly application download average , compared to the 2019 average, according to data from the Financial Times . During the same period, game downloads on Apple devices increased by 80% and Nielsen data also report an increase in the consumption of traditional media such as TV.

Also in Spain, where measures similar to those adopted by Italy for the containment of contagions have been adopted since last week, there has been a significant increase in television viewing by young people, according to MarketingNews data . In the case of adults, the increase in media consumption concerns not only entertainment contents but also those of an informative nature such as the news and therefore the channels on which the news is broadcast are registering a great growth in  audience ratings .

ITALIAN SPENDING DURING THE COVID-19 EMERGENCY

As for the impact of coronavirus on food consumption and basic necessities, it is possible to start from the main products purchased  in this period of crisis : in the days between February 24 and March 8, according to a survey carried out by Coldiretti flour is the product most purchased by the Italians . According to the list published by Coop Italy for the same period, among the most purchased products we are mainly of food to extended shelf life as canned foods , vegetables ,  canned meat and  flour(the latter two increased by 60% and 80% respectively, compared to the normal average of purchases in this period of the year). Products such as pasta ,  rice , tomato preserves , sugar , olive oil and other essential goods follow . The purchase of disinfectants , denatured alcohol , disposable gloves , bleach and thermometers , as well as personal hygiene products (increased by 30%), also increased significantly .

Although the Italian government has reassured the population about the supply of goods that will always be guaranteed, the race for online shopping has started in recent days (probably to stock up and get out as little as possible). The latter has dealt a blow to the different chains of supermarkets that suddenly are faced with an unprecedented online request , having to not only solve problems with systems to make the order , went haywire for oversubscribed , but also address all the logistical problems which arise in cases of high consumer demand.

“THE APOCALYPSE OF TOILET PAPER” AND OTHER EXAMPLES OF DRASTIC CHANGES IN THE DEMAND FOR GOODS (OF ALL KINDS)

As for Italy, according to the forecasts released by Confcommercio on March 26, the most affected sectors will be the hotel and restaurant sector, together with that of transport, the purchase of vehicles and the culture sector, with a growth of only  food , drink and tobacco consumption (10.5 billion more and an increase of 4.2% , according to estimates).

Obviously, the impact of coronavirus on consumption is clearly visible everywhere in the world, with significant increases in the demand for goods belonging to various product categories.

The huge demand for disinfectant products and masks led, for example, to the end of stocks in the various countries and a consequent substantial increase in the prices of products, which have now become almost impossible to find: this was certainly one of the sectors that first suffered drastic changes. In addition, the ” hunt” for toilet paper has also been widespread , a product that has been widely sought after in the various countries since the beginning of the health crisis , also giving rise to the creation of different memes and even hashtags on social media (such as #toiletpapercrisis and #toiletpaperapocalypse). Linked to this exponential increase and the difficulty of finding the aforementioned product, there has been a substantial growth in the purchase of bidets in the United States , an object that is usually not very frequent in American homes, but recently highly sought after.

However, many products and services belonging to the most varied categories have seen a strong increase in consumer demand worldwide since the beginning of the epidemic. In Holland, for example, the race to buy cannabis in coffee shops started on March 15 , which in the meantime were closed by the government until April 6. Adult toy company Womanizer said sales between January 1 and March 6 were well above the expected average , especially in the areas most affected by the virus.: in Italy, according to the data, the purchases of these products exceeded the expected demand by 60%, in France by 40% and in the United States by 70%. Among the other sectors that have encountered changes in the request there is also that of life insurance or health insurance policies whose demand has increased in Italy and in other countries, as reported by the Economic Times .

If these are the visible effects right away, the repercussions of this emergency are likely to prolong over time , as Bloomberg reports, which also foresees a possible impact of this virus on our purchasing, working and even travel habits  in the next years.

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