Corporate integrity and honesty during the pandemic impacted brand trust and loyalty in Singapore, if a small survey there is accurate.

How did the first six months of the pandemic affect preferences, behavioral trends and expectations of various brands in the island of Singapore?

Customer experience management firm Qualtrics chose the country for a small survey in early September 2020 involving 328 Singaporeans aged 18–65 to solicit their views.

Based on the data, the top brand communications people wanted to receive were sales and promotion emails (52%), an increase of 11% from a similar poll in May 2020.

While updates into how brands are responding to the pandemic (48%) continued to be important, the segment experienced a 20% drop from earlier in the year.

Information into products and services (47%), safety and hygiene protocols (43%) and reward programs (41%) made up the top five messages Singaporeans wanted to hear. Of less importance was information on changes to business distribution (36%, down 13%) and how businesses are treating employees (27%, down 5%).

More than 90% agreed to the prompt that during a crisis, brand actions can impact trust. Some 57% even ‘agreed’ that the impact was major.

What changed in four months

Similar to the May 2020 study, the drivers of brand trust were consistent. Not taking advantage of a crisis to maximize profits remained the most important (40%), followed by maintaining reasonable pricing (37%), and taking care of customers (32%) and employees (27%).

When it comes to the communications medium, Singaporeans were increasingly choosing email and social media while moving away from traditional broadcast and online channels.

Said Lisa Khatri, Research and Brand Experience Lead (APJ), Qualtrics: “Being able to identify, understand, and respond to rapidly changing expectations is business critical during the pandemic, and long after it. The fact that preferences toward the message and the medium have changed and yet the importance of actions remains hugely-important reveals brands cannot afford to stand still in how they engage consumers.”

Khatri said that pandemic-driven preferences and attitudes will continue to shift, and businesses should have an ‘always on pulse’ of consumer sentiment and behavior tracking.