Perspectives

Weekly sentiment on Covid-19

With COVID-19 and concern spreading around the world, Brunswick Insight gathers the latest global sentiment polls among the public, businesses and opinion leaders.

Please therefore find below this week’s highlights, with links allowing easy access to the detailed findings of each of these polls and publications.

In a hurry?... 3 key facts of the week

  • The Chinese economy is beginning to show signs of recovery, with businesses re-opening and Chinese consumer sentiment more optimistic than in other countries.
  • Yet an Asia wide recession is expected: The World Bank warns that 11 million people in East Asia and the Pacific could be pushed into poverty due to COVID-19.
  • Americans predict an economic downfall: the percentage of Americans who believe an economic recession is very likely to occur in the US because of the COVID-19 virus has increased from 38% to 61%. 

Download this week's report here →

For a full archive of reports, see bottom of this article →

Public divided on whether isolation & travel bans prevent COVID-19 spread; border closures become more acceptable. (according to a poll conducted by Ipsos March 19-21, 2020 among 14,000 adults across 14 countries).

  • Eight out of the 14 countries surveyed agree social distancing measures such as travel bans, and self-isolation will not prevent the spread of the virus. Majorities in Japan (62%), India (61%), Mexico (59%), Brazil (56%), Germany and Vietnam (55%), and Australia (52%) believe social distancing will not work.
  • A noticeable increase in the number of people who think the coronavirus poses a high threat to their job or business in all countries. The biggest jumps on this measure are all in developed economies of the U.K. (+20), Canada (+16), Australia (+14), France (+12), and the U.S. (+10). Vietnam (66%) continues to have the largest number of people worried about their jobs.

The Covid-19 pandemic has reminded corporate decision makers of the need to develop new business strategies in their future supply chain designs.

  • According to the World Economic Forum in an article published 23 March 2020, the KPIs to be considered for future supply value chain designs will likely contain both traditional metrics such as cost, quality and delivery, and new performance measures including resilience, responsiveness, and reconfigurability. There will be an increased need for infrastructures and technical means to create the transparency within global supply chains.
  • An article by Bloomberg, 20 March 2020, looks at the “Covid-19 supply chain shock, born in China, is going global”, with predictions that the impact may be worse than the trade wars of 2019. 

    Global recession now a certainty as Covid-19 exacerbates pre-existing financial imbalances. (according to a Forbes article published on 23 March 2020). 

  • Effective government policy responses must focus on supporting businesses.
  • China getting back to work and to consume.

     

A study from Gallup reveals some of the common actions taken by large companies in reaction to the spread of Covid-19 (survey of 100 large companies) 

  • Most organizations have created crisis management teams, by region.
  • Development of diagnosis protocols.
  • Travel restrictions– including face-to-face meetings, public transport and large gatherings.
  • Monitoring business impact – senior leaders hold dedicated meetings to protect business functions.
  • Encouraging wellbeing – both physical and financial.
  • Testing technology.
  • Leveraging communications.

Perceptions from around the world:

Southeast Asia:

Coronavirus may change the geopolitics of Southeast Asia

  • An article from South China Morning Post on 23 March 2020, looks at how the fourth industrial revolution could spell doom for SE Asia’s supply chains, fundamentally changing Asean’s strategic environment.

China:

Majority of MNC Companies in China have a pessimistic economic outlook, but close to half expect a return to normal operations within a month.
According to a survey, conducted 14-18 March among 120 US and MNCs in China by The American Chamber of Commerce in China (“AmCham China”):

  • Half of MNC’s surveyed were experiencing significant revenue declines, a rate nearly double the 28% figure in February.
  • Most MNC businesses – some 76% - were pessimistic about the outlook for China.
  • But the surveyed companies indicated they were not ready to pull out of China, with only 3% saying they were considering relocating some or all their production out of the mainland.

The Chinese are grateful for companies which contributed to the virus relief, with less tolerance for individualistic behavior
A survey conducted by a Dutch-based group Glocalities among 2,022 Chinese between 23 Jan and 13 Mar revealed the Chinese shift in attitude after the COVID-19 lockdown:

  • Trust in Chinese companies rose from 55% to 70% after the lockdown and in civil servants it increased from 42% to 54%.
  • Favourability towards Jack Ma also increased significantly due to his effort in supporting the society amid the virus outbreak.
  • Pre lockdown, 48% of those surveyed strongly agreed that “if you give people too much freedom they abuse it”; post lockdown this figure rose to 59%.

UAE:

UAE senior professionals believe the pandemic has drastically affected their business, and are not very hopeful for the future

A poll conducted by YouGov between 24 -30 March among 500 UAE senior business managers shows that the majority (92%) of working professionals in the UAE believe that the pandemic had resulted in a large or moderate impact on their business.

  • Half of respondents (50%) have cancelled or postponed business trips or appointments, as well experienced a decrease in sales.
  • 44% said the virus has led to insecurity among employees and office/store closure, as well as reduced operating hours (42%).
  • 86% of UAE professionals believe the virus is very likely or fairly likely to affect their business in the future.
  • 32% of respondents believe their businesses may take a month or less to recover from the setbacks of the pandemic, once the situation is resolved, while 17% of respondents believe it could take four to six months and 13% think it could take more than six months. 

Germany:

Germans are very satisfied with the performance and measures taken by its Federal Government

Conducted by the Mannheim research group (1,473 Germans were interviewed between 23 to 26 March): 

  • Supporters of all German parties share the view that the German government is doing a good job during the COVID-19 crisis (89%).
  • The measures taken are well-received among citizens. 95% describe the initial restrictions in Germany as appropriate, only 5% disagree.
  • The extensive measures to combat the economic consequences of the crisis are also met with broad approval. 74% consider them to be adequate, 18% think that the Federal Government is not doing enough and 2% say too much has been done.
  • In contrast to the measures taken by their own government, many Germans (43%) rate international cooperation as poor, according to an international survey conducted by Kantar with respondents from the G7 countries.

Germans expect only a modest impact on their income

  • According to Kantar's survey, nearly half of Germans (46%) expect no impact on their income, which is the highest figure among the G7 countries surveyed. 18% of respondents say the effects of the crisis can already be felt. 36% say that they have not felt any effects so far but expect them in the future. 

Germans feel that the behavior of the majority of their fellow citizens is reasonable

  • According to a survey by the Mannheim research group, 76% have the impression that people in Germany are behaving sensibly during the crisis, 22% doubt this.

Italy:

Among European countries, Italy is the one where the fear of contracting COVID-19 is the highest, but at the same time Italian citizens are the most confident in their government

(according to a research carried out by BVA-Doxa and Gallup March 10-19, 2020 among 5.000 citizens across Italy, France, Germany and UK).

  • 90% of Italians have a fear of being infected by the virus (in the South of Italy it is 94%), more than in UK (78%), France (76%) and Germany (46%);
  • 72% of Italians positively evaluate the actions taken by the government and Prime Minister Conte.

Italians are ready to renounce to their privacy in order to reduce contagions

  • According to BVA-Doxa and Gallup research almost all Italians (93%) are in favor of renouncing some fundamental rights such as privacy. This is higher than in the rest of Europe: 84% in France, 72% in the United Kingdom and 71% in Germany; 
  • According to a research run by SWG 25-27 March, 2020 among 800 Italian citizens, 74% of respondents are favorable to the use of drones to monitor movement on the streets, the 67% agree on supervising people exits from home through the cellphones, 64% is for the use of electronic bracelet to control quarantined people. 

Italian consumers are unsure about the future of the economy and are adjusting their habits

(according to a survey conducted by McKinsey March 21–22, 2020 among 1,300 Italian citizens)

  • 87% declared to be unsure or pessimistic about Italian economy recovery after the COVID-19 crisis, with half of the Italians expecting a reduction in income over next two weeks;
  • General uncertainty prevents Italians from making purchases or investments (48%) and make them very careful about how they spend their money (58%). 

Over these weeks, Italian people have significantly increased their presence on social media looking for positive contents and emotional links with influencers and brands

  • Almawave, the research branch of Almaviva Group, has analyzed 7 million of Tweets and 60 thousand posts on IG about COVID-19 published in Italian between February 24 and March 26, 2020, showing that the sentiment of Italian people has been significantly improving over the time.
    • At the beginning of the research, dominant sentiments were fear and sadness, while starting from March 18, analysts has seen a switch towards more positive words like encouragement, resistance, culture and solidarity. 
  • According to research conducted by PULSE among 150 Italian influencers, social media interactions have increased, and the majority of influencers adapt content to the moment by focusing on charity and positivity. 

UK:

Media consumption is changing:

  • News source preferences have shifted: British consumers have gravitated towards trusted, traditional media brands and live TV in response to the crisis. A report from Havas Media shows that the BBC has become the most trusted news channel during the outbreak, followed by Sky News and The Guardian. (500 respondents surveyed by Havas Media).
  • As people seek to understand the pandemic, media consumption has increased across all channels. The biggest increase has been in live TV viewing, followed by social media, streaming, video on demand and newspapers. (500 respondents surveyed by Havas Media).
  • But while media consumption might have increased, journalists are actually among the least trusted groups when it comes to communicating information about COVID-19. It is notable that employers are trusted more than journalists. (10,000 respondents surveyed by Edelman). 

According to a detailed survey among 1,079 British adults surveyed by Ipsos Mori:

People are worried about the economy:

  • Britain’s view of COVID-19 as a ‘high threat’ to their business jumped 19 points in a week.
  • 52% of Britons think that the Coronavirus poses a ‘high’ or ‘very high’ threat to their job or businesses. This is compared to 33% the week before.
  • 37% say it has become harder for them to afford their usual expenses because of the pandemic.
  • 40% think that the country will be weaker for years to come after the pandemic is over.

Working from home is hard for many:

  • Half of working Britons say that the pandemic has made it harder to work.
  • 39% of British parents said that looking after their children has become more difficult.

Self-isolation is a strain on mental health, wellbeing and relationships:

  • 55% have said that COVID-19 has made it harder to stay positive day-to-day and 62% said that its harder to feel positive about the future due to COVID19.
  • 33% have said that its harder to stay in touch with family and friends. 

Meanwhile, according to a survey conducted by YouGov on 1 April:

Brands who put staff and customers first are seeing a popularity surge:

  • After bringing in no-contact delivery options, allowing many small restaurants to continue trading- Deliveroo’s consideration scores increased 3.5 points in 2 weeks.
  • M&S has created essential goods boxes, brought in social distancing initiatives in-store, and partnered with Deliveroo to deliver groceries contact-free. These efforts increased buzz scores by 9.1 points in just over a week.
  • Morrisons donated £10 million to food banks and brought in similar social distancing measures increasing their own buzz scores by 11.4 points. 

While brands that don’t follow government guidelines, or fail to prioritize their staff see backlash:

  • Sports Direct’s buzz score fell from -3.9 to -39.2, according to BrandIndex. Mike Ashley, Chief Exec, had to issue an apology after refusing to close stores after the government issued all non-essential shops to close. YouGov data shows that 88% of Brits don’t consider selling sports equipment as an essential service.
  • Wetherspoons has seen a 16.9-point decrease in buzz scores to -23.2, after refusing to pay pubs or pay its workforce.

 

As schools across the US and the world transition to online courses, this unprecedented situation has many parents worried about the pandemic’s negative impact on their child’s education

Research conducted by Gallup among 1,870 US parents of K-12 students whose schools are currently closed to in-person attendance. Fielded March 24-29, 2020. 

  • 42% of parents are very or moderately concerned about the negative repercussions COVID-19 will have on their child’s education.
    • Several subgroups of parents are more concerned than others – non-whites (52%) are more concerned than whites (36%), and Democrats (49%) are more concerned than Republicans (31%).
  • Despite their concerns, most parents do not favor extending the school year into the summer if schools are closed for the remainder of the school year. Instead, 48% say students who complete a formal online learning program should be allowed to advance to the next grade in the fall.
    • Sentiment is spilt among race: Non-white parents (39%) are nearly twice as likely as white parents (21%) to say school should be extended into the summer months.

US adults have steadily adopted stricter social distancing practices. However, women, young adults, Democrats and residents of the most densely populated areas are following these practices most strictly

Data pulled from Gallup’s March 31st Data Brief on COVID-19. 

  • The percentage of Americans avoiding small gathering, such as with friends and family, has surged 15 points to 83%.
  • The percentage of Americans reporting they are avoiding public places, like stores and restaurants, has increased six points to 78%.
  • The percentage avoiding mass transportation, including air travel, has leveled off near 90%. 

Prolonged, widespread business closures and other efforts designed to halt the spread of COVID-19 have led many Americans to predict an economic downfall; sentiment has a stark partisan divide with an overwhelming percentage of Democrats fearing the worst

Gallup conducted an online survey of 3,555 US adults between March 20-22, 2020.

  • In a little less than two weeks, the percentage of Americans who believe an economic recession is very likely to occur in the US because of the COVID-19 virus has increased from 38% to 61%.
    • A staggering partisan split: 83% of Democrats and 35% of Republicans think an economic recession is very likely to occur
  • Americans are less pessimistic about the potential effects of COVID-19 on their own financial situation – only 18% say it is very likely that their household will have “major financial struggles.”
  • However, the combined percentage who think COVID-19 is either very or somewhat likely to harm their finances has increased from 40% to 52% since the March 13-16 polling.

There remains a large gap in the level of preparedness among socio-economic status, as well as by race and gender, with all of these divides appearing to hold across partisan lines

Research conducted by CNN of 1,013 US adults from March 24-29, 2020.

  • Women report feeling less prepared than men: 73% of women say they are “very” or “somewhat” prepared to deal with a COVID-19 infection in their families, compared with 80% of men.
  • Among Americans with household incomes of $50,000 or less, 69% say they feel at least somewhat prepared to handle an infection in their family; that rises to 83% among those in households with incomes of $50,000 or more.
  • However, the poll holds some indication that those gaps are beginning to shrink: Among those with incomes under $50,000 annually, the percentage of respondents who feel prepared to handle a COVID-19 infection, has jumped by 14 points, compared with a five-point increased among those with higher incomes.

Previous weekly reports:

20 March 2020

27 March 2020

03 April 2020

 

Brunswick is a strategic advisory firm focused on helping companies navigate critical issues.  Along with a worldwide team of experts, we have a deeply experienced team across China who can advise on capital markets related implications of the COVID-19 outbreak.  Please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.

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