Corporate Responses to COVID-19: Rising to the Occasion or Falling Short?

March 23rd, 2020

The effects of COVID-19 are being felt on a large scale worldwide and consumers seek reassurance from the companies that serve them. We recently surveyed 1,129 of our members to get a glimpse into which companies are leading the charge in communicating they’re looking out for their customers.

Over seven-in-ten indicated they have seen companies or brands that have clearly conveyed they are looking out for the best interest of their consumers.

Standout companies in this regard include Walmart, Target, the airlines (with some specific mention of Delta), Amazon, Starbucks, Apple, and various grocery stores & banks. 

Sanitation is one area where customers were pleased to see certain companies going above and beyond. One of our members remarked: “Patagonia, REI, and Urban Outfitters are closing their stores. Some other stores like Buffalo Exchange and American Eagle are sanitizing everything more closely.” Also spotlighted in this regard:

“Target-keeping their stores clean with regular cleaning. Making employees stay home if their sick and providing services like order pickup and drive up.” (Female, 60 to 69)

“Petco and Chewy- emails from both talking about cleaning techniques and how they will remain stocked with needed prescriptions and foods for our pets.” (Female, 60 to 69)

“Kohl’s, Macy’s, Kroger, just to name a few. I think EVERY company that has my email contacted me through email and clearly said what is happening and how they are providing support and how they clean. It was very appreciated.” (Male, 18 to 24)

“Starbucks has communicated through its social media pages about the additional sanitary precautions the company is taking in its stores to reduce the risk of transmission (ex. limited seating, not filling customers’ reusable cups, etc).” (Female, 18 to 24)

Another area where certain companies are viewed to have excelled is on a human and personal level. Among the topics spotlighted: Spectrum is providing free Internet for kids to do schoolwork at home.”

Another respondent appreciates that “The Body Shop has donated soaps to certain areas and removing all testers from their stores.” 

Notably fewer respondents felt any companies overtly stood out for falling short in their communications. The more limited criticisms cited included: 

“AT&T…we live in a rural area where we have to use a hot spot for Internet. I use it for work so most is used and now my kids are out of school for weeks and out of data. Would be nice if they would offer unlimited.” (Female, 35 to 39)

“One that I noticed that is a missed opportunity is Waze. As a very commonly used GPS app, I feel like they could reach a lot of people by having a message or suggestions to people when they open the app about how to stay safe and healthy when they’re going out places or mention that the hours of places might be affected because of the pandemic.” (Male, 25 to 29)

All of this time spent homebound is only creating more excitement for a return to in-person interactions. Our next piece will provide a glimpse into the activities and milestones most eagerly awaited once it’s safe to be out and about. 

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