Consumer Behavior and COVID-19: How the Pandemic Has Changed Consumption Patterns and Employment in China.

Jun 05, 2020

Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business (CKGSB) Professor of Marketing and director of the Social Innovation and Business for Good Centre Juliet Zhu recently sat down with the Academic Director of London Business School’s Wheeler Institute for Business and Development, Rajesh Chandy, to discuss how the Chinese economy is being restarted and long-term shifts in consumer behavior and employment patterns as a result of COVID-19. Professor Zhu made the following points:

Shifts in consumption patterns have been accelerated as a result of the pandemic 

  • • In China, instead of providing fiscal stimulus, the Chinese government is supporting small businesses through waiving rents and insurance payments.
  • • Local governments are collaborating with small businesses by providing coupons to subsidize spending, potentially amplifying consumption by a factor of 10; these scarce, time-limited credits are intended to be redeemed rather than saved, to boost spending; 
  • • Online sales have been booming during the lockdown, with an increased use of ‘internet celebrities’ selling merchandise through live streams;
  • • These channels have been used for a wide range of products, from entrepreneurs selling mobile phones through to local government officials promoting potatoes to keep farmers in business; 


Employee sharing programmes have allowed for a more efficient allocation of people, as well as help companies that have been shut reduce their costs 

  • • Initiatives such as employee sharing programmes have enabled people to find work where it is needed, by allowing business owners to move workers where there is the greatest demand, as well as allowing businesses to reduce the cost of full-time employees when there is limited activity required; 
  • • Similarly, there could well be an innovation benefit for these companies in the future, as the capabilities of their workforce have grown through working in different roles
  • • Professor Zhu has also identified a link between people who were able to reduce their stress levels during the crisis by helping others and finding a better sense of fulfilment. 


For the full video interview and article, visit:

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