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Walking the Talk
US Consumers Looking to Business, Rather Than Government, for Leadership During Pandemic

The Porter Novelli COVID-19 Tracker: Insights for a Time of Crisis highlights the need for US companies to step up, authentically, to address the public’s needs and expectations.

Porter Novelli has unveiled new research to provide companies with data and insights to guide their strategies and Purpose-driven efforts during and after the coronavirus pandemic.

The survey, done earlier this month with 1,004 US adults, found that they view companies as critical stakeholders — not only in current relief efforts, but also in longer-term results. In fact, a third of US consumers have more faith in business to create solutions to address the coronavirus pandemic than other entities, including government and nonprofits.

Specific findings include:

  • US consumers are looking to companies to lead during this crisis — and some have more faith in business than government: Three-quarters (75 percent) of US adults polled believe companies must step up to support coronavirus relief — and a third (34 percent) have more faith in business to solve the coronavirus pandemic than other entities (including government and nonprofits).

  • Actions made now will impact brand reputation beyond the crisis: Three-quarters (75 percent) of US adults polled say how companies act now will impact their perceptions of them in the future and the same amount (75 percent) said they will remember the companies that stepped up. And 71 percent said they’d stop buying products from a company they felt was irresponsible during this time.

  • Employees feel companies did a good job in supporting COVID-19 relief efforts, but speed is critical: While nearly two-thirds (63 percent) of employees feel their companies did a good job supporting communities during the coronavirus pandemic, four-in-10 feel their company could have acted faster.

  • US consumers feel companies must do well by employees first, then support relief efforts: Of the various ways companies can get involved in relief efforts, survey respondents feel that companies must first ensure employees can continue to receive money and benefits (68 percent), implement policies to product health and safety of employees (68 percent) and donate products or services to relief efforts (68 percent).

“Has there ever been a time when all of humanity was experiencing the same thing at the same time? Today, brands, governments and NGOs are grappling with the same existential that we, as individuals, are also facing,” said Sandy Skees, EVP of Global Innovation & Impact Practice Lead at Porter Novelli. “I am struck by the creativity of humanity — people sharing hopes and fears, as well as silliness. Right now, the best a brand can do is participate in this collective effort. In our Find.Live.Tell. methodology, this moment calls for us to Live. There are examples of heroism everywhere. Trust your sense of humanity and do the next right thing.”

When asked open-ended questions as to which companies are doing the best job with relief efforts, a few names rose to the top — including Ford, GM, Johnson & Johnson and Google, among others — which consumers have recognized for their quick responses since the spread of the coronavirus.

Review more findings — and tips for ensuring your efforts get resources in the right hands, make the most impact and lean in on authenticity — here.