Seven in 10 people would shun firms that behaved badly during COVID-19 crisis – research

More than 70 per cent of people in the UK would avoid companies that used irresponsible or deceptive practices during the coronavirus pandemic, a new survey suggests.

Pandemic: public look to 'traditional' media above others for news on how companies act
Pandemic: public look to 'traditional' media above others for news on how companies act

The COVID-19 Tracker from PR agency Porter Novelli UK, which surveyed a representative sample of 1,052 adults on 29 April, also suggests the public prefer 'traditional' media sources for information about how companies react during the pandemic.

According to the research, 71 per cent of respondents said that if they learned of a company’s irresponsible or deceptive business practices during the crisis, they would stop buying its products or services.

The same proportion said they would remember the companies that made bad decisions in the period; for example, decisions that had a negative impact on their employees, customers or community.

The research, which took place online via market research firm Dynata, also shows 69 per cent of UK adults feel better about companies that have publicly announced what they are doing to provide coronavirus support. In addition, 61 per cent have a better opinion of business and companies in general because of how they have stepped up during the crisis.

Two-thirds of respondents also believe businesses that are supporting the NHS and front-line workers will be recognised and remembered when the pandemic ends.

Meanwhile, 69 per cent would feel proud to work for a company that supports coronavirus relief efforts and 65 per cent would be more loyal if they heard their company was doing something supportive.

News sources

The public were also asked where they learn about or look for information about companies’ coronavirus responses and support efforts.

The top answer (58 per cent) was "media stories or interviews" (for example, on the TV news or in the local paper).

This was ahead of social media (36 per cent), advertising (32 per cent) and company websites (31 per cent). Just 11 per cent get their information on this topic from celebrities, politicians or social-media influencers.

The survey also asked about what sources they look to or trust the most when they are looking for information about the coronavirus.

Again, 'traditional' media such as TV newspapers and radio performed strongly – they were chosen by 57 per cent of respondents, behind only UK central government (including ministers and government medical experts).

Other responses included UK devolved governments (15 per cent), UK metropolitan government such as the mayor (also 15 per cent), social media (14 per cent), national companies (six per cent) or small/local companies (five per cent).

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