More Important Now for Brands to Demonstrate Empathy amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

New PepsiCo Beverages North America-Ipsos poll shows that a brand's response to the pandemic will impact shopping intentions for more than half of Americans

The author(s)
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Sara Machi Research Analyst, Public Affairs
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Washington, DC, May 14, 2020 – A recent Ipsos poll, conducted on behalf of PepsiCo Beverages North America, finds that Americans feel that society has become more empathetic and unified, but less free and secure, since mid-March. At the same time, Americans believe it is now more critical that brands demonstrate empathetic qualities and take action in order to maintain customer loyalty and support.     

Detailed Findings   

During the coronavirus pandemic, Americans see society as more empathetic and unified but less free and secure 

  • The values of freedom, security, respect, opportunity, empathy, fairness, and unity are seen as important by virtually all Americans (91% or more), and at the same level importance to society as before the coronavirus pandemic.   
  • Now, though, Americans feel society is less free (down 6 percentage points) and secure (down 4 percentage points) and more empathetic (up 7 percentage points) and unified (up 4 percentage points) than in March of this year.     

Americans also see it as more important now for businesses to demonstrate empathetic qualities.   

  • It is more important during these times for brands to show an understanding of customers as people (up 5 percentage points from March) and exhibit care for customers (up 4 percentage points).   
  • Also of greater importance is for brands to take action on issues its customers care about (up 5 percentage points).   
  • Nine in ten Americans continue to think that brands need to show empathy with actions and not just words, and 86% think that showing empathy is critical to creating greater loyalty.   

A brand’s response to the coronavirus has the potential to impact future customer behavior.   

  • Around 2 in 3 Americans (68%) agree that how a brand responds to the coronavirus crisis will impact whether they engage with them in the future.   
  • Eighty-one percent of Americans think that most brands have shown empathy in response to the crisis.   
  • A majority (56%) feel the most empathetic way a company can communicate is by changing tones and topics in marketing and advertising to directly focus on addressing the crisis.

About the Study   

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between May 1-5, 2020, on behalf of PepsiCo Beverages North America. For this survey, a sample of 2,084 adults age 16+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii was interviewed online in English. The first wave of this poll was conducted between March 10-13, 2020, with a sample of roughly 3,118 adults age 16+ from the continental U.S., Alaska, and Hawaii who were interviewed online in English.   

The sample for this study was randomly drawn from Ipsos’ online panel (see link below for more info on “Access Panels and Recruitment”), partner online panel sources, and “river” sampling (see link below for more info on the Ipsos “Ampario Overview” sample method) and does not rely on a population frame in the traditional sense. Ipsos uses fixed sample targets, unique to each study, in drawing a sample. After a sample has been obtained from the Ipsos panel, Ipsos calibrates respondent characteristics to be representative of the U.S. Population using standard procedures such as raking-ratio adjustments. The source of these population targets is U.S. Census 2016 American Community Survey data. The sample drawn for this study reflects fixed sample targets on demographics. Posthoc weights were made to the population characteristics on gender, age, race/ethnicity, region, and education.     

Statistical margins of error are not applicable to online non-probability polls. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error and measurement error. Where figures do not sum to 100, this is due to the effects of rounding. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.4 percentage points for all respondents. Ipsos calculates a design effect (DEFF) for each study based on the variation of the weights, following the formula of Kish (1965). This study had a credibility interval adjusted for design effect of the following (n=2,084, DEFF=1.5, adjusted Confidence Interval=+/3.9 percentage points).   

The first wave of this poll also has a credibility interval of plus or minus 2.0 percentage points for all respondents.     

For more information on this news release, please contact:     

Mallory Newall 
Director, US   
Public Affairs   
+1 202 420-2014   
[email protected]     

Kate Silverstein 
Media Relations Specialist, US   
Public Affairs   
+1 718 755-8829
[email protected] 

About Ipsos   

Ipsos is the world’s third largest market research company, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people.   

Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. We serve more than 5000 clients across the world with 75 business solutions.   

Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since July 1st, 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).    ISIN code FR0000073298, Reuters ISOS.PA, Bloomberg IPS:FP          

The author(s)
  • Mallory Newall Vice President, US, Public Affairs
  • Sara Machi Research Analyst, Public Affairs