Brands’ handling of the COVID-19 pandemic will impact buying habits

Posted on: Thursday 23 July 2020

79% of people say that they are more likely to buy from companies that have responded well to the crisis, with supermarkets top of the bill

New research from IAB UK and YouGov reveals that the way brands have acted and communicated during the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to have a longer-term impact on their business. 79% of people asked said that they are likely to favour brands that have behaved well during the crisis, with clear and frequent communication (75%) and getting adapted safety measures in place (62%) cited among the contributory factors. 

Meanwhile, 80% say that they will be less likely to purchase products or services from companies that they feel have been insensitive or taken advantage of the situation. Overall, people have been attuned to how brands have acted in response to the crisis, with 35% paying more attention than usual to how companies have behaved. Over two in five adults (45%) feel that too many brands have tried to take advantage of the situation via their advertising. 

The findings also reveal the brands that consumers have felt most favourable towards during lockdown, with supermarkets dominating the top 10. Tesco emerges as the leading brand by a substantial margin (spontaneously mentioned by 15% of respondents), followed by Asda and Morrisons. Amazon and Boots are the only non-supermarket brands to make the top 10.

When questioned, consumers pointed to the speed of getting safety measures in place, prioritisation of key workers and good treatment of staff as some of the things that really made the difference to how they felt about brands. 

However, clear and frequent communication stands out as the main driver of positive sentiment - 75% of people feel more positively towards companies that have clearly communicated how services have adapted and the majority think it’s important for companies to be communicating with them about changes. At least four in five adults want more information regarding physical store changes and opening hours (86%), information on adapted delivery services (81%) and details of increased safety procedures (80%). 

Elizabeth Lane, Head of Research and Measurement at IAB UK, said: “With so much uncertainty in our daily lives at the moment, it’s clear that consumers want more - not less - communication from brands. This crisis has highlighted stark differences in people’s feelings towards those that they feel have reacted well and those that they see as having behaved poorly. As demand flows back into the economy, this research indicates that it’s those brands that have kept consumers informed, reassured and continued to deliver a reliable service that stand to gain.”

Members can download the full report here.


All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,123 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 23 - 24 June 2020.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

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