Coronavirus: Daily Life in Different Countries
As Coronavirus (Covid-19) sweeps the world, the full implications are still unfolding. Governments and health organisations have the difficult task of judging how to respond. In this fast-moving situation, we spoke to some of our Local In-Market Experts (LIMEs) to gain an insight into how it’s affecting daily life in their countries. Here’s what they told us.
Italy has been badly affected by the crisis, with (at the time of writing) over 1,000 Coronavirus-related deaths recorded so far. The age of Italy’s population has made it more vulnerable: according to the UN, 28.6% of Italians are aged 60 or older. This compares to, say, South Korea where only 18.5% of the population is over 60. Older people are especially vulnerable.
Italy was quick to impose lockdown and was the first European country to ban flights to and from China. Our LIME Simona told us: “The country is basically in quarantine – schools, universities, museums, cultural centres, cinemas, theatres, libraries, pubs, gyms, spas, resorts – all closed. So too are shops, bars, restaurants and hair salons – although supermarkets and pharmacies remain open, and emergency and essential services relating to health, food, transport and energy will continue to operate.” Citizens who defy the lockdown could face fines or even prison sentences.
Religious events such as christenings, marriages and even funerals have also been cancelled.
The economic fall-out will be huge. Simona notes: “The government has set aside a total of €25 billion to help.”
Some companies have spotted an opportunity in the crisis, with Pornhub generating media coverage for its decision to offer free memberships to quarantined Italians until 3rd April. Amazon offered free Amazon Prime accounts in parts of Italy but revoked the offer after a few days because of demand.
South Korea has been praised for its response, a key feature of which has been mass testing. At the time of writing, South Korea has tested over 250,000 people for Coronavirus (compared to 25,000 in the US, even though cases were identified in both countries around the same time).
Our LIME, Banhee, told us: “Despite South Korea having good internet infrastructure, the concept of working from home is not widespread. The current situation is encouraging people to do so. It will be interesting to see if this results in a lasting behavioural shift once the crisis passes.”
As in other countries, South Koreans are being encouraged to stay at home to avoid mass gatherings. Banhee said: “People are looking into teaching their children at home. Universities are exploring online classes for students. Advertisers for products like hand sanitisers as well as homely things like bedding, pyjamas and slippers seem to have increased activity.”
Hyejeong, another South Korean LIME, observed: “For people still going to work, they are doing so in face masks.”
Different states have responded in different ways – for example, elections in Ohio were cancelled but have gone ahead in Arizona, Florida and Illinois. Schools around the country have closed and many have struggled to run classes online. The Kentucky Derby, America’s longest-running sporting event, looks likely to be postponed. An Oregon Police Department asked citizens to stop calling 911 if they run out of toilet paper, noting that “you can buy it online”. President Trump was criticised for referring to the disease as “a Chinese virus”.
Dane, one of our US LIMEs, told us: “Working from home is fairly routine in the US so we have the ability to self-isolate. People are cancelling trips or having them cancelled due to flight restrictions. There are restrictions on mass gatherings in major metropolitan areas.”
Brian, another US LIME added: “Every major sports league has suspended play. The travel, event and hospitality sectors are seeing a major impact.”
President Macron has said the country is “at war” with the virus and announced €45 billion in support to help small businesses and employees.
Christine, a French LIME, told us: “Gatherings of more than 1,000 people are now prohibited, with nurseries, schools and universities all closed. Working from home is encouraged. As in other countries, the industries most directly affected are travel, events, sports, hospitality. We’ve seen an increase in Facebook advertising for supermarkets and takeaway services, as people think about how to feed themselves.”
Whilst there are differences in the way countries have responded, the main things in common are restrictions on mass gatherings and travel and an emphasis on working from home where possible. All our LIMEs reported panic buying in their countries, for items such as tinned and dried goods plus toilet rolls and sanitisers.
Brands across markets and sectors are grappling with the impact of the crisis and how best to respond. If you’re looking for digital marketing support at this turbulent time, please get in touch.
Az Ahmed | Marketing Manager
Oban International is the digital marketing agency specialising in international expansion. Our LIME (Local In-Market Expert) Network provides up to date cultural input and insights from over 80 markets around the world, helping clients realise the best marketing opportunities and avoid the costliest mistakes.