Sep 24, 2020
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Consumers hold brands to account over pandemic actions - report

Sep 24, 2020

The ethical behaviour of online brands during the pandemic is lingering in the memory of consumers and will have a lasting impact on customer loyalty in the UK and Ireland, a new report by global commerce services brands PFS and LiveArea said on Wednesday.

Consumers are prepared to avoid brands that they feel didn't behave well during the pandemic

It commissioned Arlington Research to survey 2,500 people and said that the research shows 58% of UK and Irish consumers “feel greater loyalty towards brands that have helped people during the pandemic, showing that it pays to do the right thing”.

Additionally, 53% favour online retailers and brands that have “responded ethically to what’s currently happening in society”. And 59% of consumers said they’re encouraged and feel greater loyalty to online retailers and brands that have demonstrated their commitment to the safety of their staff through this crisis.

And staying in touch is important too in order to avoid consumers felling neglected. As many as 64% of consumers are more likely to buy items from online retailers and brands that stay in touch and offer frequent order updates.

And when it comes to sharing shopping experiences with others, nearly half of consumers (49%) share negative online shopping experiences with friends and family. But this rises to 57% of millennials. Meanwhile, 60% of both Gen Z and millennials say they’d recommend a brand to a friend based on how they responded during the pandemic, compared to 50% overall.

It’s a sharp reminder of how company behaviour in a crisis can feed through to higher or lower sales once that crisis recedes. 

Negative stories about online and offline businesses came thick and fast during the lockdown and after it. They included companies like Victoria Beckham accepting government money when it was assumed that they didn’t need it, and others like Arcadia trying to pay-off redundant staff based on their lower furlough salaries rather than their regular wages. Frasers Group was slammed for trying to keep stores open, while Net-A-Porter and Next were also criticised early in the lockdown for trying to continue their online operations, although they quickly shut them down to allow them to develop safer ways of working. Asos and Boohoo continued throughout the lockdown and also came in for heavy criticism.

That was countered by a host of companies trying to ‘do the right thing’ from making PPE and hand sanitiser, to helping the health authorities, pivoting their Instagram accounts to focus more on practical and entertaining content rather than sales-focused posts and much more.

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