Nielsen: Eating at Home Will Remain the New Reality for Asia

|Apr 27|magazine13 min read

HONG KONG, April 28, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Nielsen, the global measurement and data analytics company, surveyed Asian consumers to understand their behaviour while purchasing FMCG and the findings reveal a phenomenal shift from on-the-go consumption to safe in-home consumption due to the impact of COVID-19.

Nielsen's "COVID-19 Where consumers are heading?" study, which tracks consumers' sentiment toward the coronavirus outbreak, changing lifestyle, and spends on FMCG categories, found that across 11 Asian markets most consumers have re-prioritised eating at home, a trend lead by 86% of mainland Chinese consumers who said they would eat at home more often than before the outbreak. A similar trend was observed with 77% of consumers in Hong Kong planning to eat at home more often than before. Other markets in this region that highlight a similar trend include South Korea, Malaysia and Vietnam (62% respectively).

This study further reveals that there is a high demand for convenience and safety as consumers are forced to re-think about food options without compromising on their health. Hong Kong tops the list with 46% of consumers showing high preference for takeaway food. Similarly consumers from South Korea and Thailand (42% respectively) are choosing the food delivery option more often than before the event.

"The shifts away from out-of-home dining to at-home food delivery, takeaways and cooking during the COVID-19 period are locally nuanced by traditional consumption habits but also by the different quarantine and shutdown measures by market. For example, the Japanese have hardly increased ordering food delivery while Thailand has leaned heavily on this channel. And Hong Kong consumers have embraced food delivery and light cooking," observes Andrea Borelli, Managing Director, Nielsen Hong Kong and Macau. "Consumer thinking and actions have been reoriented, and this will have long-term consequences. For many, old habits like eating out may forever be replaced by new habits, more apt to new, altered environments. Not only will consumers reassess where they're eating, but they will also be far more cognizant of what they're eating. This will be crucial for organizations seeking to navigate the short term to recognise."

Taking a closer look at Hong Kong, while we expect digital channel usage for buying products needed on a daily basis to be less likely sustainable over the next six-nine months, we do expect a surge in demand for take-away food and food delivery service will continue.

As the COVID-19 spread globally, Hong Kong consumers reduced their dining out and sought food services with minimal human contact and involvement. Nielsen expects this to continue throughout 2020. Nielsen's syndicated "Impact of COVID-19 on Hong Kong Consumer Market 2020" study found that the average frequency for dining out has declined from 3.70 times per week to 2.86 times per week. Comparatively, the study found that the average weekly consumption frequency for take-away/food delivery increased to 4.30 times per week (vs. 3.31 before the epidemic) and cooking at home increased to 6.54 times per week (vs. 4.77 before the epidemic).

According to Nielsen Hong Kong MarketTrack data in Q1 2020 versus the same period a year ago, there has been a surge in key accounts value sales for categories such as non instant pasta (+67%), sauces (+23%) and edible oil (+20%) as consumers preparing meals more often at home. Whilst on-the-go categories witnessed a decline including chewing gum (-34%), snack bar (-17%) and energy & sports drink (-11%).

"As Hong Kong consumers adjust to the 'new normal', people are spending more time at home to prepare meals for their families," said Andrea Borelli, Managing Director, Nielsen Hong Kong and Macau. "Prior to COVID-19, demand for these categories was mostly stable as consumers used to dine out more often and would do light cooking at home. With the redefined 'stay-at-home economy', it has helped to reinvigorate packaged food sales as this provides the opportunity for FMCG players in these categories to engage with their consumers more closely."


The Nielsen "COVID-19: Where consumers are heading?" March 2020 survey was conducted between March 6 and 17 in each of the 11 markets in Asia -- Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. Given the dynamic changes that have occurred over the last weeks, it is important to note that the impact of COVID-19 events will impact consumer sentiments differently by market. This study presents consumer insights from a global survey spread across 74 markets and reflects consumer behaviour and sentiments during the coronavirus pandemic. The insights from this syndicated report will assist FMCG brands, retailers and manufacturers to identify purchase trends as consumers shift their preferences while making FMCG purchases amid COVID-19 pandemic in their respective markets.


Nielsen Holdings plc (NYSE: NLSN) is a global measurement and data analytics company that provides the most complete and trusted view available of consumers and markets worldwide. Nielsen is divided into two business units. Nielsen Global Media, the arbiter of truth for media markets, provides media and advertising industries with unbiased and reliable metrics that create a shared understanding of the industry required for markets to function. Nielsen Global Connect provides consumer packaged goods manufacturers and retailers with accurate, actionable information and insights and a complete picture of the complex and changing marketplace that companies need to innovate and grow.

Our approach marries proprietary Nielsen data with other data sources to help clients around the world understand what's happening now, what's happening next, and how to best act on this knowledge.

An S&P 500 company, Nielsen has operations in over 100 countries, covering more than 90% of the world's population. For more information, visit

SOURCE Nielsen