Amid all the worrying headlines about the global spread of coronavirus, a new report has some surprisingly upbeat findings about its impact on Chinese consumers, who remain optimistic, motivated and still ready to spend.

According to Wavemaker, the media agency network, more than three-quarters (78%) are either very, generally or somewhat optimistic about the impact of the outbreak, Campaign Asia reported.

Just 13% report feeling a bit pessimistic (11%) or pessimistic (2%), while 9% are neutral. And even in Hubei province, the epicentre of the disease, 63% say they feel generally optimistic.

The Wavemaker survey, conducted over February, is based on responses from more than 4,100 consumers across all provinces in mainland China, including 500 people in Hubei.

And on top of finding that Chinese consumers are mostly keeping their spirits up, the survey reveals little change in their spending. For example, 68% say they have not cut back on their spending, while 83% still pay for the essentials as they did before.

However, with millions of people confined to their homes, the Wavemaker report also notes some changes to how people are now spending their time and advises brands to prepare for any pent-up consumer demand that is released when the outbreak is expected to abate.

For example, a full 83% of Chinese consumers say they catch up on the news more than they did before, 70% report watching more TV and video, 66% are doing more housework, 62% are cooking more, while more than half are spending more time reading (54%) and taking part in hobbies (52%).

Overall, Chinese consumers expect life to return to normal within the next three months and Wavemaker thinks their experience of dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, especially those placed in quarantine, will influence future purchasing trends.

One obvious example is that self-confinement and forced home-working is likely to spur digital and online activity, including demand for integration of business resources as well as better efficiency and flexibility in the supply chain.

The current focus on healthcare is likely to boost demand for household cleaning products, kitchen supplies and sports equipment. And Wavemaker also sees “a huge growth opportunity” in online consumption of fresh products.

“The outbreak also promoted online behaviour in low tier cities and towns,” the report added. “With the country’s internet coverage reaching 98% of villages in 2020, such markets will bring great growth to internet businesses. This will only accelerate.”

Sourced from Wavemaker, Campaign Asia; additional content by WARC staff