Consumers are watching how brands act during COVID crisis—here’s how it will shape future loyalty

by | Mar 31, 2020 | Covid-19, Public Relations

Brands and businesses are scrambling to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, but they’d better also watch the way they conduct their crisis business management—because once the viral dust settles, consumers plan to hold them accountable.

More than 89 percent of Americans are monitoring the treatment of employees by the companies they work for during these difficult times—watching whether corporations lay off workers, offer paid sick days, give back to their communities, etc., according to new research from PEOPLE Insiders Panel, which is comprised of PEOPLE brand enthusiasts.

Act badly now, pay later

Sixty-five percent of consumers expect that company actions during this time will likely impact which brands they decide to purchase in the future. 

“I am paying very close attention to how companies are treating their employees (how much time off they are providing, are they making them use sick days or not, etc.), what offers they are giving consumers (e.g. something for free, discounts), how they are giving back to communities (free products for moms or elderly people, free meals, sending supplies to hospitals, etc.),” said one respondent, according to a news release.

One Hundred Dollar Bill With Medical Face Mask on George Washington.

Most everyone nationwide has witnessed hoarding of everyday household items during the pandemic

Ninety-two percent of those surveyed have personally encountered empty store shelves and are not surprised that their favorite brands are absent or products that they regularly use are in low supply. However, 81 percent reveal that due to these shortages, they are more open to sampling new brands and products than ever before. In fact, 65 percent are purchasing brands that are new to them or ones that they don’t typically buy.

“I’ve been buying more expensive or luxury brands because other economical ones are sold out,” another respondent offered. “It’s been kind of nice to be pampered! Food items have been more international, and it has been nice to have new flavors” and “I’ve recently tried a new brand of snack pepperoni, which I only noticed because everything else on the shelf was already gone. I actually like it and plan on it being a regular part of my snacking routine.”

Woman hangs a card with information about the store closing on a shop window due to the coronavirus

Also, because the news has been worrisome, consumers are more receptive to advertisements that are warm and comforting rather than current

Fifty-four percent would welcome ads with a humorous and entertaining tone to help take their minds off the pandemic.

“I like it when ads have a sense of humor. So much of the news (political, economic, and climate change) is so negative,” another respondent said. “I want to be uplifted and reassured that everything will be better in the future.”

“Humor is always good, especially during these trying times,” offered another.

woman with her hand resisting and preventing coronavirus

Participants are concerned less about their own personal wellness and more about the impact of this pandemic on the United States, the economy, and their local communities

They are also anxious about their families and finances, with 86 percent concerned about the availability of essential items that they regularly use.

“I am paying attention to ads more than ever because a lot of my usual brands are disappearing off the shelves, and I want to be more cognizant of other stuff to look for,” an additional respondent said.

Global epidemics and economic impact

This PEOPLE Insiders Panel study was fielded March 23-24, 2020 with 510 participants surveyed.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter


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