The way businesses responded to COVID-19 has had consequences, both good and bad. In our latest wave of COVID-19 surveys, INNOVATIVE has takena fresh lookat the at how Canadians are judging the COVID-19 response of different industries. These are the results of an 1887-person online survey weighted to reflect the actual Canadian population according to the census.
The vast majority of the 26 industries we explored have been seen to do a good job in responding to the pandemic.
Applying a more sophisticated screen to this data, we look not only at positive or negative opinion but the salience, or presence of an industry in the minds of Canadians thinking about COVID-19 and business responses. Some industries frequently elicit strong opinions from respondents, whether positive or negative, and we call this effect “engagement”. Canadians don’t have strong opinions on every industry, however, so their “engagement” with those sectors is lower.
The big winners in this analysis are grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals, and restaurants, all which receive a “good” rating from at least two-thirds of our respondents and high levels of engagement.
Insurance companies and, particularly, residential landlords have marginal scores that suggest they are vulnerable to reputational damage. Fortunately for them, they have quite low levels of engagement.
Some industries have lost ground during COVID. Four industries receive more “poor” than “good” ratings including airlines, meat packing plants, retirement homes, and long-term care homes.
However, since September 2020, nursing and retirement homes have seen their reputational loses start to abate.
Among the vast group of industries with moderately favourable scores, two stand out as having lost some ground in the second half of the pandemic. Construction and manufacturing have suffered the largest reputational decline since September 2020. In September both were among the better performing groups in the public’s opinion, but they have now declined from a net score of +38% for construction and +32% for manufacturing to only +20% and +19% respectively.
There appear to be three key factors at play:
Essential services (hospitals, pharmacy, grocery) are seeing a boost due to their sacrifice and service for the common good.
Industries with well-known outbreaks have either slipped (construction, manufacturing) or actually lost reputation (meatpacking, long-term care, retirement homes).
Industries with consumer issues such as delayed refunds also lost ground (insurance, airlines).
As Canadians forget the details of their COVID experiences, the feelings remain. Whether they are looking for employees, new sites for their businesses, or support from governments, industries will feel the impact of their pandemic responses for some time to come.