Consumers facing the coronavirus

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Consumers facing the coronavirus


The author is the deputy editor of industry team of the JoongAng Ilbo.

Distributors focusing on offline business frequently say they may soon go out of business. In this grim economic situation, customers are snatched by online sellers as consumer psychology is already at the bottom. At this nervous juncture, the coronavirus outbreak is spreading fast. They may have to give up their marketing events aimed at students’ graduation, as well as spring events. Stores where patients have visited are more nervous. They are worried that their employees may have contracted the deadly virus.

They are quarantining their facilities, requiring employees to wear masks, and even installing heat sensor cameras to check the temperatures of visitors. But it is not enough to assure sensitive customers. People are afraid of going to crowded places, and some don’t even leave the house at all. Some customers say they don’t shop online because they are afraid of getting deliveries, as they cannot be sure the boxes and hands of the delivery men are safe. Households with young children and the elderly are even more cautious.

Some people blame the media for overly spreading fear. They complain that the panic is excessive when the fatality rate of the coronavirus is relatively low. I often hear people complaining that small businesses and companies are the first to be hurt when people don’t go to the street.
I understand their concerns, but I cannot accept the criticism that media reports are excessive. The core of the fear over the coronavirus is that little is known. They cannot be assured just because the coronavirus killed less people than the flu. Stagnant domestic consumption is worrisome, but I am more afraid of the casualties. So, the customers cannot be told to act as usual. It is the media’s job to collect as much information as possible and warn them about the worst-possible case.

If there hadn’t been an “excessive” number of reports on bulking up on masks and hand sanitizer, it would be late for the government to plan a crackdown on stocking up on those items. The media, the government and consumers all have to do their jobs and get over the time of the coronavirus.

Personally, I use public transportation and meet people as usual. I attended a performance I reserved a while ago as planned. I believe that it is safe if I wear a mask, diligently wash my hands and am thorough with personal hygiene.

Nevertheless, I would discourage people from visiting China and won’t even share food with those close to me. I wish the crisis would pass as people keep their own standards.

JoongAng Ilbo, Feb. 6, Page 28
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