Consumers Increasingly Choose Brands Based on Safety Measures and How They Treat Their Employees During the Pandemic

Nearly 1 in 4 U.S. consumers stopped purchasing from a company during the pandemic because their COVID safety protocols didn’t meet their expectations

PROVO, Utah & SEATTLE--()--The pandemic has accelerated the degree to which U.S. consumers choose brands based on their health and safety standards and how well they treat their employees and customers, according to new research from Qualtrics (Nasdaq:XM).

Consumers expect brands to go above and beyond recommended safety standards. Thirty percent of consumers started purchasing from new brands over the past 18 months because they liked new safety measures that brands adopted, such as curbside pickup or delivery. Conversely, 22% of consumers have stopped shopping with a brand because they felt their health and safety measures were insufficient.

The results underscore a trend among U.S. consumers who expect more of the brands they are doing business with, and who will switch brands if they feel they don’t share their ethical and social values.

During the pandemic, J. Dawgs, a Utah gourmet hotdog restaurant, began selling do-it-yourself gourmet hot dog kits and launched a number of new food trucks to safely reach their customers outdoors. Many customers said this move increased the likelihood they’d continue to purchase from the restaurant and now they are making those changes permanent because of continued customer demand.

“We found that 72% of our customers who purchased DIY hotdog kits said they would not have purchased from the restaurant during the pandemic otherwise and were keen on seeing the kits continue, even after we reopened,” said J. Dawgs founder, Jayson Edwards. “We also discovered that our new food trucks were massively popular with customers and that they wanted to see them more often, which completely changed our strategy long term.”

Consumers not only care about how they are treated, but also how businesses treat their employees. Nearly half of consumers (47%) said they would trust a brand more if they took care of their employees, which was just behind taking care of customers (66%).

Consumers care about how brands approach societal challenges and whether they fulfill their brand promises

More than half of consumers (57%) said they are aware of the brand values of the products and services they purchase or use. A third (36%) said they would likely stop purchasing from a brand if they felt disconnected from the company mission, values or stance on societal issues. In fact, only 27% of respondents felt that the companies they do business with were doing enough to address environmental and societal challenges.

Consumers are also quick to ditch brands that underdeliver on their promises. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of consumers have switched brands because their experiences did not live up to an advertised brand promise (such as “fast delivery” or “great customer service”). When asked what factors would cause them to stop purchasing from a brand, 69% said poor customer service – ahead of product quality (50%) or price increases (42%).

“A brand promise needs to be the North Star for every experience an organization delivers,” said Bruce Temkin, head of Qualtrics XM Institute. “Organizations that continuously listen to their customers and employees and find new ways to deliver on their brand promise will create a long-term competitive advantage.”

Word-of-mouth referrals matter more than ever

A majority of consumers (78%) look at customer reviews before buying from a new brand. And when considering a new brand, 83% said they were somewhat likely to purchase a new product if it has good reviews – compared to just 16% who said they may still purchase from a brand with poor reviews.

In addition to online reviews, consumers were also heavily influenced by their friends, family and colleagues when considering whether to purchase from a new brand. Two-thirds of consumers said they were at least somewhat likely to purchase a new brand if recommended by a friend, family member, or colleague. As it turns out, more than two-thirds have purchased from a new brand recommended by someone they know in the last year.


This Qualtrics study asked more than 2,000 U.S. consumers what they thought about customer and brand experience. Participants were selected from a randomized panel and considered eligible if they live in the United States and are at least 18 years of age. This study was fielded in Q4 2021. For more a generational breakdown of the results see:

About Qualtrics

Qualtrics, the leader and creator of the experience management (XM) category, is changing the way organizations manage and improve the four core experiences of business—customer, employee, product and brand. Over 16,750 organizations around the world use Qualtrics to listen, understand and take action on experience data (X-data™)—the beliefs, emotions and intentions that tell you why things are happening, and what to do about it. The Qualtrics XM Platform™ is a system of action that helps businesses attract customers who stay longer and buy more, engage employees who build a positive culture, develop breakthrough products people love and build a brand people are passionate about. To learn more, please visit


Tyler Petersen

Release Summary

The pandemic accelerated the degree to which U.S. consumers choose brands based on their safety standards and how they treat their employees.


Tyler Petersen