Vesta Brand Sentiment Navigator Research
Helping Brands and Marketers Pilot Through Rapid Change
Vesta's Community Powered Marketing provides us with direct access to millions of consumers, allowing us to tap real time sentiment in this fast-moving crisis. Since March, our ongoing Brand Sentiment Navigator has surveyed over 35,000 consumers, revealing insights into U.S. consumers' changing opinions, attitudes and behaviors to help brands make better decisions faster.
We know the challenges you're facing and we're here to help you discover new paths to consumer connection through our research. Access it all for free below.
[Infographic] Wave 8 Brand Sentiment Navigator
WAVE 8 | Fielded August 25 - September 13
Wave 8 of our study took place in August and September as many families adjusted to a new kind of school year and we all soaked in the last bits of summer before a worrisome fall and winter were upon us. In a study of 7,416 respondents, we found that concern regarding COVID-19 remained high, and more than half (53%) believe things will not improve by the end of the year. However, the majority of respondents (80%) are optimistic about next year, signaling that consumers are starting to look for a light at the end of the tunnel in 2021.
While public safety continues to be a key factor in brand sentiment, other priorities like sustainability and political value alignment have not disappeared from consideration. In fact, 68% of consumers consider sustainability to be of equal or greater importance as public safety. And in this heightened political environment, 42% of consumers say they would switch brands if they found out it doesn’t align with their political beliefs.
The use of online channels such as social media, video calling, and online communities has remained high throughout the last six months, indicating that its increased usage is likely a long-lasting shift. As many marketers pursue brand-direct e-commerce, there is an opportunity for brands to entice consumers with community connection - giving themselves a unique advantage as many brands attempt to go head to head with retail juggernauts like Walmart, Amazon, and Target.
While all shoppers are spending more time researching their online purchases (86%), younger generations can still be swayed to make "impulse buys," a pattern that is far less likely when older generations shop online. These younger "digital natives" are also the most likely to remain brand loyal online, making them a key target for e-commerce success.
For more consumer insights, download our full infographic below.
[Infographic] August COVID-19 Brand Sentiment Navigator
WAVE 7 | Fielded July 17 - August 4
Wave 7 of our study took place during the month of July, when COVID-19 continued to overshadow our lives and dominate the news, from dramatically rising case counts to the reinstatement of restrictions, debates around how to reopen schools safely, and the culture war around masks.
In that alarming climate, it is not surprising that our survey, which was completed by 7,265 consumers from July 17 to August 4, found concern about COVID-19 had bounced back from the months prior, and that the majority of consumers were still not comfortable shopping in person.
This summer has made it clear that the crisis is not over. And as consumers strive to manage through the pandemic, there is an opportunity for brands to fulfill their promise to consumers, helping them through a trying time and building lasting connections in the process. This is clear when studying brand sentiment toward industries and brands. Our study found Grocery Stores, Household and Cleaning Products, Pharmacies, and Health and Wellness brands continued to benefit from high positive consumer sentiment. But negative feelings increased greatly over previous studies for industries that were seen as contributing to the spread of the disease as well as misinformation, such as Bars, Social Media, Airlines/Travel, and Restaurants.
The good news is that brands that take action and communicate with their customers can build awareness and positive sentiment. Respondents were clear - reaching out to consumers and listening to what they need at this time is the single best thing a brand can do.
For more consumer insights, download our full infographic below.
[Infographic] July COVID-19 Brand Sentiment Navigator
WAVE 6 | Fielded June 12 - 25
Our sixth wave study took place during June, a month that saw massive changes across the U.S. While many locations began or continued to lessen COVID-19 restrictions on businesses, the killing of George Floyd set in motion unprecedented attention and demonstrations in support of civil rights and the Black Lives Matter movement. Our study found a majority of consumers remained attentive to brands' actions, and were supportive of brands and businesses that maintained health and safety standards and who spoke up about issues.
Concern over the COVID-19 situation overall continued to decline in June, however 61% of respondents were very/extremely worried about a resurgence of the disease. While older generations were most concerned about health and safety, and younger generations were most concerned about the financial impact of the pandemic, almost one out of ten respondents responded that Social Justice and Equality was their biggest concern.
A majority (61%) of shoppers have returned to reopened, non-essential businesses but only 14% are shopping frequently. One in three respondents (36%) say they are not very/at all comfortable shopping at reopened businesses, which may be in part because only 25% of respondents rate businesses as being excellent in their safety precautions. Businesses have an opportunity to increase comfort levels and visitation by visibly supporting and promoting their safety precautions.
Our research found strong support for brands speaking up about issues. A majority of consumers who believe brands should speak up about issues said that how brands have acted in response to the Black Lives Matter movement has impacted their view of them (60%) and reactions skewed largely positive. Negative sentiment was associated with brands that failed to address the movement, failed to amplify Black voices, or had an inauthentic response.
[Infographic] June COVID-19 Brand Sentiment Navigator
WAVES 4 & 5 | Fielded May 6 - May 17; May 18 - June 1
As time has passed and stay at home orders have started to expire, our fourth and fifth waves study how spending habits continue to evolve.
Consumers have been discovering new brands over the last few months, with more than half reporting trying brands they haven’t previously used due to online shopping, product shortages, and curiosity. Roughly half (48%) researched the new brand ahead of time and product reviews factored the most heavily in their research (67%). With over seven out of ten consumers sharing they will probably/definitely continue to use these new brands in the future, the need to establish social proof and robust ratings and reviews has never been higher.
The study also revealed that consumer spending is on the rise.
Over sixty percent of consumers are planning to celebrate the lifting of stay at home orders with celebratory spending, benefitting the food and beverage (69%), personal care and beauty care (47%), fashion (47%), entertainment (40%), and health and wellness (32%) industries the most. Promotions and messaging focused on time spent outside the home and with loved ones, albeit in safe circumstances that align with COVID-19 guidelines, can tap into this positive intent.
Shoppers are also intending to return to retail, with a majority (60%) saying they are at least somewhat comfortable shopping in retail locations that have recently reopened. To ensure consumers continue to feel comfortable, retailers should not only follow recommended safety measures such as providing hand sanitizer, regular and thorough cleaning, curbside pickup, and mask and glove wearing by employees, but also promote these measures widely, with signs at the retail location being the most desired.
[Infographic] May COVID-19 Brand Sentiment Navigator
WAVE 3 | Fielded April 24 - May 6
Vesta's third study was designed to help marketers understand the lasting impact on consumer habits as stay-at-home orders ease.
Two out of three consumers stocked up on extra household items during this crisis. A large portion of them (42%) are intending to use up that stockpile before returning to purchasing products as normal when restrictions are lifted. This could impact products that were most heavily purchased including cleaning/disinfecting products, toiletries, frozen food, canned goods, and health and wellness products.
Consumers are planning to spend more on shopping at retail locations (20%) and shopping online (18%) when restrictions have lifted. Younger consumers (Millennials and Gen Z) are intending to celebrate the return of their freedom by spending more on experiences including travel and vacations, going out to bars and restaurants, and attending concerts, shows, and performances.
[Infographic] April COVID-19 Brand Sentiment Navigator
WAVE 2 | Fielded April 10 - April 24
Our second wave of data highlights evolving shopping trends.
Consumers’ adjustment to a new normal includes trying new brands. More than half of consumers tried new products for baby, food and beverage, health & wellness, household, personal care/beauty, and/or pet in the past month and 48% of consumers said they would definitely continue to use the new brands they’ve discovered.
Fundamental brand values and availability are key to creating lasting consumer relationships. Consumers would most like to see good value (78%), quality (71%), safety for customers (58%) and employees (56%), ready availability (57%), and giving back to the community (48%) from brands.
[Infographic] March COVID-19 Brand
WAVE 1 | Fielded March 20 - March 30
Our first wave of research focused heavily on establishing the initial impact that COVID-19 had on consumers and their brand perceptions.
Nearly six in ten consumers (58%) say the COVID-19 situation has impacted their view of brands. With constant change and uncertainty growing by the day, it’s been challenging for consumers and marketers alike to figure out “the new normal.” By now consumers have received the deluge of company emails giving their responses to the crisis. Millions are experiencing new ways of working and connecting with friends and family. Consumers are using digital channels more than ever before. Our shopping habits are changed and we’re discovering new brands at the grocery store when our normal go-to products are out of stock.
“This is a critical time for brands to imprint themselves in consumers’ minds that will ensure staying power through the crisis and beyond,” says Susan Frech, CEO, Vesta. “This survey suggests now is the time for brands to show, not tell, how much they live out their brand promise and values.”
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