Safety breeds loyalty for consumer-facing companies

The pandemic continues to serve as an accelerant for consumer-facing companies. Trends that might have taken several years to coalesce are now speeding up to keep pace with changing consumer habits that are likely to last well beyond the recovery.

When you reopen, will they come? 

The vast majority of consumer-facing companies — 70% — are understandably concerned about a new wave of COVID-19 infections (vs. 59% for all sectors), since interactions with the public are the lifeblood of their business. As they begin cautiously reopening their doors, CFOs at consumer markets (CM) companies also worry more about consumer confidence dragging down consumption (42%) than their counterparts in all sectors (29%).


What are your top-three concerns with respect to returning to the workplace and operating in a changed business environment?*


All industries
Consumer markets

A new wave of COVID-19 infections
%
%
Impacts of global economic downturn
%
%
Decrease in consumer confidence reducing consumption
%
%
*Highest-ranked choices from a list of 12 options.
Source: PwC US CFO Pulse Survey
June 11, 2020: base of 330, CM base of 43

Protecting people and productivity

Consumer-facing companies are more confident in their ability to meet customers’ safety expectations (72% are very confident) than to provide a safe working environment (56% are very confident), likely because workers in customer-facing roles face a constant stream of potential COVID-19 exposures.
 

In returning to the workplace, how confident are you in your company's ability to do the following?
(Respondents who are "very confident.")*

Consumer markets

Meet customers' safety expectations
%
Provide clear response and shut-down protocols if cases in your area rose significantly or there was a second wave of infections
%
Provide a safe working environment
%
Retain critical talent
%
*Highest-ranked choices from a list of 8 options.
Source: PwC US CFO Pulse Survey
June 11, 2020: Total base of 330; CM base of 43

Best of physical and digital 

CM companies want to provide customers with safe, engaging shopping and travel options to keep them coming back: 65% report that new ways of serving customers — by combining the best of physical and digital options forged in the throes of the current crisis —  will improve the company over the long term (vs. 53% for all sectors).

What about the current situation will make your company better in the long run?*

Consumer markets
All industries

Work flexibility (e.g., hours, location)
%
%
Better resiliency and agility
%
%
New ways to serve customers
%
%
*Highest-ranked choices from a list of 7 options.
Source: PwC US CFO Pulse Survey
June 11, 2020: Total base of 330; CM base of 43

Consumer habits likely to last

Over the next 12 months, 41% of technology-related spending at consumer-facing companies will accrue to growth in the form of things like new products and services (vs. 32% for all sectors) — in response to a sharp uptick in online buying, the result of consumers in many parts of the country continuing to shelter in place. Consumers have signaled that many of these habits, that began during the current crisis will likely last well beyond it. Consumer-facing companies are paying close attention to these signals.

Contact us

Tyson Cornell

Consumer Markets Industry Leader, PwC US

Eric Shin

Consumer Markets Tax Leader, PwC US

Tom Puthiyamadam

­Global Digital and Consumer Markets Advisory Leader, PwC US

Melissa Palmer

Consumer Markets Assurance Leader, PwC US