The Cultural Effect of Lockdown


Duxton Consulting chased three culturally diverse markets to investigate differences in the impact of COVID-19 and the effect of lockdown on attitudes and behaviours.

The quantitative online research took place on April 2429, 2020 in Malaysia, China, and Germany.

The results indicated clear differences among the three countries in terms of their lockdown psychology and behaviour.

Malaysians loved the lockdown

Well, maybe not loved… but clearly, they learned to accept a lockdown that they felt was necessary. And perhaps due to the underlying ‘kampong culture’, they adjusted very well to the circumstances.

64% of Malaysians said they were ‘understanding’ about the lockdown. This is very different from the Germans, who mainly said they were ‘annoyed’, and the Chinese, who were simply ‘resigned’.

Only 13% of Malaysians felt that the lockdown was ‘oppressive’, vs 51% in China and 44% in Germany.

Most Malaysians felt they benefited from the lockdown

Malaysians found the lockdown to be a novel experience that serendipitously enabled them to unlock and/or rediscover new facets of their otherwise routine lifestyles.

This is why 62% of Malaysians said they benefited in some way from being in lockdown. Only 20% of Germans agreed that they had any personal benefit!

Malaysians also took the opportunity to improve themselves and their skills, and this has made them feel ‘more self-assured and able to take care of [themselves]’.

Malaysians want to reinvent their lives after the lockdown experience

The somewhat beneficial lockdown experience has raised a desire among Malaysians to reinvent their lives in some way.

76% of Malaysians said they want to ‘reinvent their life’ after the lockdown ends. Only half of Malaysians said they want to go back to their old life…

How do they plan to reinvent their lives?

  • 73% said they will take a lot more care of their health, welfare, and personal appearance in future.
  • 71% of Malaysians want to continue doing more home cooking. Cooking was the number one benefit most Malaysians felt they enjoyed during lockdown.
  • Many Malaysians said they want to work from home more, and plan to use more teleconferencing software.
  • They also plan to take more ‘me time’ and participate in personal improvement activities.

But it’s not all about ‘me’. More than one-third of Malaysians say that in the future they will be a lot more active with social work and charitable donations.

Looking forward, Malaysians say they are optimistic about their future and plan to take greater care of their loved ones, their personal health and welfare, and the environment.

But most of all, after lockdown they are looking forward to getting back to the ‘national sports’ of eating and shopping! The lockdown hasn’t changed everything…

The Chinese had a lot more fun in lockdown than Malaysians or Germans

The Chinese developed a more ‘louche’ lifestyle than either Malaysians or Germans. More than 50% of Chinese said they went to bed later, got up later, and ate a lot more. They also smoked more, drank more alcohol, and had more sex. 32% of Chinese said they engaged in more sexual activity vs only 13% in Germany and 12% in Malaysia.

The Chinese also ordered a lot more food delivery online than Malaysians or Germans, and many also admitted that they had bought more things online that they didn’t really need.

Good news for the travel industry

The Chinese are about to travel again! 61% of Chinese said they want to go on holiday in their own country as soon as lockdown ends and they are free to travel. 56% of Malaysians and 53% of Germans also said they plan to travel in their own country.

But 45% of Chinese also plan to holiday overseas, so be prepared for the sightseeing capitals of the world to be busy again in the near future!

The number one activity for Malaysians, Chinese, and Germans to do after they are free to travel is to see relatives, friends, and colleagues.

But the number two thing they all want to do is go on holiday. They all agree that they need to get away from home for a while.

This is good news for the travel and tourism industry, and all the businesses associated with it.

Was it all worth it?

‘Definitely,’ say the Chinese and Malaysians. Over 90% agreed that the personal inconvenience and sacrifice of lockdown was worth it to stop the spread of the virus.

92% of Chinese also agreed that the economic damage was necessary, but Malaysians were less sure, with 82% agreeing. Even fewer Germans agreed, with one-quarter of them saying the damage to the economy was not worth it.

Interestingly, the clear leadership by government has been appreciated in China and Malaysia. 80% now think government leadership and preparedness is more important than before the pandemic. And almost 90% of Chinese and Malaysians now think their healthcare system is more important than before the pandemic.

By Laurenz Koehler, Managing Partner, Duxton Consulting Group