IBM and Coronavirus stories

Consumers’ Lingering Doubts About COVID-19 Pose a Challenge to Businesses

Globally, consumers’ opinions about the impact of the pandemic vary widely across age groups:

As people around the world continue grappling with the global pandemic, businesses need to recognize the striking new opinions of their consumers and employees—and to realize that there may be stark differences in individual attitudes toward COVD-19, depending on a person’s age and where in the world they live. That’s the upshot of the newest monthly COVID-19 Consumer Survey from the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV). The survey was conducted in August and polled 14,500 adults in the United States and seven other countries: Brazil, China, Germany, India, Mexico, Spain and the United Kingdom.

"Individuals are holding their employers to higher standards of transparency and flexibility as they navigate the extended timeframe of COVID-19's impact," said Jesus Mantas, senior managing partner, IBM Services. "Organizations need to earn and sustain trust with their employees, customers and partners, as they adjust their processes and offerings to serve the new consumer preferences."

The survey showed that levels of concern and uncertainty are high across consumers in all countries surveyed, and it is unlikely that the new habits and preferences people are forming amidst the pandemic will dramatically change, even when a vaccine becomes broadly available. The majority of global respondents said they believe we will see more pandemic events like this in the future. Many are also concerned that a second wave of the coronavirus will hit later this year.  

  • 69% of millennials (ages 25-39) are concerned about their job security and 60% said the pandemic has taken a toll on their mental health—higher than all other age groups.
  • Baby Boomers (ages 55-70+) are the most pessimistic on economic recovery, with seven in ten reporting they believe their nation’s economy will continue to see an economic downturn or significant recession.
  • Generation Z (18-24) is the most optimistic about the economy, with more than half noting they believe the economy will recover to its pre-COVID-19 state in the next few months.

What’s more, employees have high expectations for transparency and flexibility from their employers. The percentage of Americans indicating they would like to continue to work remotely at least occasionally declined from more than 80% in July to 67% in August.  India had the highest percentage (33%) of respondents preferring to exclusively work remotely. Roughly one in three Americans cited mental health as the number one factor affecting their preference for their future working environment; nearly half of respondents in India and Brazil agreed.

Read more on the IBV COVID-19 Consumer survey.