Study: Consumers expect financial situation and overall quality of life go down amid pandemic

The current COVID-19 crisis has reshaped consumers' views towards almost every aspect of their lives, while they are expecting the world to return to normal after a long period of time, according to a recent study.

FleishmanHilard's research practice TRUE Global Intelligence has released "COVID-19 Mindset: The Collision of Issues", a new study analysing the inflection points taking place around the world as consumers’ thoughts and approaches to their health and finances have shifted, and expectations for their government, community, employers and each other have changed.

Consumers' outlook has changed considerably due to the pandemic. A total of 70% of respondents said they did not have enough money or had “just enough” to pay monthly expenses. As they reevaluated the necessity of spending, 64% of them said they had stopped purchasing non-essential items.

The knock-on effect is the expectation of a declining standard of living. Just over one-third (34%) believed their financial situation will get worse, while 30% believed the overall quality of life would go down. A total of 28% believe their safety level will decrease.

Another key finding was that while the COVID-19 pandemic is at the forefront of how people are living their lives, the world is also addressing systemic racism. The issues most important to consumers are inter-connected by systemic discrimination and inequities.

Discrimination and equality or racism is the top issue on consumers’ lists, with 72% rating it very important and 59% expecting companies to take a stand on it. Other important issues include access to affordable quality healthcare (69%), public health risks (65%), and violence against women (63%).

Meanwhile, Nine out of ten (91%) of consumers said it was important for companies to show that they were committed to doing the right thing. Consumers expected CEOs to speak out and act on issues affecting their customers, employees and the communities where they did business.

Top areas where they need to take a stand included health and safety measures that the company was taking for their employees and customers (51%), issues related to data privacy and security (44%), and showing how the company's values support the values of their communities, customers and employees (42%).

“Consumers are carefully watching how organisations respond to today’s issues. The organisations that put people first will be recognised by consumers as they seek to regain their own sense of control," said Peter Verrengia, senior partner and head of FleishmanHillard's recovery and resurgence practice.

The survey also found that respondents' trust in sources of critical safety information has also eroded. Consumers want to hear from public health officials and scientists (51%) for critical information on safety and testing, while only 39% of consumers want to hear from the government, pharmaceutical or healthcare companies (24%) and their employers (15%).

“The collision of issues has increased scrutiny of companies, brands and leaders. Going forward it is absolutely vital for organisations to not only commit to doing the right thing, and do so with compassion and empathy, but to act on that commitment in alignment with clearly defined values," said Verrengia.

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