Germany’s social distancing and stay-at-home measures to combat the spread of COVID-19 have dramatically altered the way people go about their daily routines. In its b4p trends study, the Gesellschaft für integrierte Kommunikationsforschung (GIK), or the company for integrated communication research, explores critical questions: How concerned are Germans, how do they view the measures enacted by their state and federal governments, how have their need for information and media consumption been impacted by the pandemic and what are their feelings regarding a post-COVID future?
According to this study, which was conducted between 25-30 March 2020, two out of three participants were concerned about their health. Of people over 50 years of age, 78 per cent described themselves as highly alarmed, presumably in part because some of those surveyed belong to a high-risk group for COVID-19. Women (69 per cent) were more concerned than men (64 per cent) and the same applied for people with a high school diploma (75 per cent) compared to those with a higher level of formal education (59 per cent).
Just under half of Germans surveyed believe that their government responded promptly in order to stem the spread of the Corona virus (49 per cent). While the majority of respondents over 50 (54 per cent) agree with the German government’s response, agreement is significantly lower in respondents age 30 to 49 (43 per cent). However, the majority of respondents agreed that the measures in place at the time of the survey were appropriate to the nature of the situation. However, there were exceptions: Many participants found certain measures to be too strict, including the ban on family gatherings (21 per cent), shop closures (20 per cent) and the closure of children’s playgrounds (16 per cent). Respondents were most dissatisfied with the handling of foreign travel into Germany: 26 per cent thought that the government was too late to respond or that its response was inadequate.
Over half of those surveyed were optimistic or very optimistic about the long-term cohesion in their circle of friends (60 percent) and in society in general (47 percent). A large percentage of participants reported feeling positive about their health (41 per cent) and about public security (34 per cent) going forward.
However, 38 per cent of those surveyed were pessimistic or very pessimistic about the impact of COVID-19 on their financial investments. Many shared a similar view regarding the value of their savings or assets (36 per cent), their personal income (33 per cent) and the value of their retirement plans (29 per cent). Women often had a more pessimistic view than men on this subject.
Seventy-nine per cent of respondents consume more or significantly more news now as a result of the pandemic than they did prior to the crisis, and 38 per cent consume news far more frequently. The source of that news varies based on the desired speed and depth of information. For current information, most respondents turn to public television stations (79 per cent), radio (73 per cent), the official websites of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) or the German Federal Ministry of Health (66 per cent) as well as news websites of established commercial media sources (62 per cent).
When searching for background information, our respondents also preferred official websites (47 per cent) and public television (44 per cent) as well as news websites of established commercial media sources (39 per cent). Current magazines such as Spiegel, Stern and FOCUS (37 per cent) as well as television sources such as WELT and ntv (37 percent) came in second. These media sources were the most frequently mentioned when participants were asked to name the sources that provide the most thorough, in-depth information on the Corona virus. Only 6 per cent of respondents named social networks as trustworthy media sources.
The increased desire for information among the public has led not only to increased media consumption, but also to a diversification in the media consumed. 61 per cent of respondents reported that they now more frequently consume information from different sources than they would normally. In addition, 57 per cent of people claimed that the time of day at which they normally consume news has shifted. News consumption now occurs in shorter intervals throughout the day. In the #stayathome era, reading now makes up one of the top three activities alongside tidying up and watching television