It’s hard to believe it’s been six months since COVID-19 took center stage in our lives (although some days it feels like it’s been years, right?). Since March we’ve been tracking consumer opinion and brand sentiment from more than 35,000 respondents in an effort to understand how current events shape the behaviors and thoughts of consumers and how marketers should adapt.

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, view our full infographic below or visit our research hub for access to all of our studies by following this link.

Infographic of VESTA Brand Sentiment Navigator Wave 8