Taiwan is a success story in battling the pandemic without pausing its economic activity as compared to other Asian markets. However, despite this the first quarter GDP numbers fell to 1.6% as compared to almost 2.3% in Q4 2019.
The effect of the pandemic was curtailed by Government planning and effective measures, consumers in their bid to prevent exposure to the coronavirus exhibited high demand for essentials foods and hygiene products. There has been a marked increase in FMCG growth at 7.4% in Q1 2020 versus 5.8% in the previous quarter, on account of stocking pantries and health/sanitization related household products, especially during the last week of March and April. Nielsen study revealed that 48% of Taiwanese surveyed consumers said they increased online shopping during the covid-19 outbreak and over 30% of consumers preferred to continue to increase online shopping for FMCG after covid-19 event.
Online gained momentum with 38% rise in online FMCG sales during the months from Jan to May this year, compared to 18% for all 12 months in 2019. As more consumers preferred eating at home instead of outside, online shopping for food increased by 43% and non-food categories increased by 37% during the first five months of 2020 with household paper growing at 67% along with increased sales in food staples (58%) and beverages (43%).
The CCI index in Q2 2020 for Taiwan is at 85 (87 in Q1 2020), remaining consistent over the last few quarters. Nearly half of consumers are concerned about the economy, over one fourth of consumers concerned about their health and another one in five worried concerned about job security. In the consumer confidence survey during the second quarter, the majority of consumers said to put their spare cash into savings and investments. In terms of monthly budget allocations, consumers preferred to spend on dining out, housing expenses such as rent and utilities etc., savings and purchasing food and beverages for home consumption.
In May consumers resumed their outdoor activities slowly leading to an uptake of outdoor food, sports drinks (53% rise in sales as compared to the first four months this year), sugar-free soy milk (18%) and other essential supplies such as face sunscreen (51%) and body sunscreens (265%) necessary to support change in lifestyle in summers. Further, Nielsen also noted that this year in May, the sales for these categories were higher in comparison to the average monthly sales acros Jan-April in the previous year. Consumers also exhibited indulgence in ice-cream category in summers wherein there was 91% rise in sales of ice-creams in May compared to the previous month and 34% uptake of premium ice creams.
Overall consumers have become receptive to messaging around a healthy lifestyle with appreciation of products that help them exercise, maintain a healthy diet, promote sound sleep benefits and increase immunity. Manufacturers and Retailers have to devise their strategy based on consumers’ response to categories that have gained importance amid the pandemic and also think about how assortment optimization and promotions can help boost sales of categories that were not in the consideration of consumer repertoire during the crisis.
 Nielsen Taiwan Consumer Behaviour Survey | March 2020 | Sample: 500 consumers
 Nielsen Taiwan ecommerce Database | Nielsen Physical Retail Market Tracking
 CCI - Consumer Confidence Index by The Conference Board Global Consumer Confidence Survey conducted in collaboration with Nielsen