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The COVID-19 pandemic is far more than a health crisis: it has unpredictably changed our whole way of life. As suggested by the analysis of economic data on sales, this dramatic scenario has also heavily impacted individuals’ spending levels. To better understand these changes, the present study focused on consumer behavior and its psychological antecedents. Previous studies found that crises differently affect people’s willingness to buy necessities products (i.e., utilitarian shopping) and non-necessities products (i.e., hedonic shopping). Therefore, in examining whether changes in spending levels were associated with changes in consumer behavior, we adopted a fine-grained approach disentangling between necessities and non-necessities. We administered an online survey to 3833 participants (age range 18–64) during the first peak period of the contagion in Italy. Consumer behavior toward necessities was predicted by anxiety and COVID-related fear, whereas consumer behavior toward non-necessities was predicted by depression. Furthermore, consumer behavior toward necessities and non-necessities was predicted by personality traits, perceived economic stability, and self-justifications for purchasing. The present study extended our understanding of consumer behavior changes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Results could be helpful to develop marketing strategies that consider psychological factors to meet actual consumers’ needs and feelings.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


© 2021 Di Crosta et al.