According to research by GatherUp, 71% of customers are more likely to do business in stores that require face masks. The latest research points to a growing health concern among patrons over possibly contracting COVID-19 as businesses open up.
The research analyzed by some 40,000 reviews by shoppers points to the need for businesses to heed customers’ health concerns. Because more than half (54.4%) of shoppers say they are more likely to shop at a business with strict mask policies.
GatherUp Survey on Customer Face Mask Requirements
In contrast, 27% say a strict mask policy would not impact their willingness to shop there. Surprisingly 18% of those shoppers would be less inclined to shop at a business that enforces the wearing of masks. According to GatherUp, the small minority of those who abhor wearing a mask do so for political reasons.
The research also notes a drop in ratings for major brands during the post COVID era. Major brands such as Home Depot, Walmart, Costco and even Dominos saw a drop in their ratings by customers. Comparing reviews from 90 days before and after COVID, brand experience reviews saw a downward trend. Home Depot took the biggest loss dropping by 0.3 while Walmart, Costco, and Domino’s dropped 0.1 during the period.
Breakdown on the Mask Conundrum
Despite the debate across the nation over wearing masks, the research is clear on what shoppers want. Over 80% of US adults are either more likely or equally likely to do business if the business enforces stronger masking policies.
Men relative to women more frequently said they were less likely to do business with companies that had strict mask enforcement. A quarter (25.2%) of men say they are less likely to shop in establishments with mask polices compared to 18% of women.
Small Business Deals
Perceptions also vary among age groups. Those over 45 years of age say not having mask policies could be a factor in their shopping preference. With 19.6% saying they were less likely to do business in establishments that enforce masking. Of those between 18 to 45 years of age, almost a quarter (23.4%) say masks could be a deal-breaker. However, the majority of both those above and below 45 years of age are more inclined to patron establishments with mask codes. With 74.2% of those above 45 saying they would likely shop while 68.1% under 45 years saying the same.
Location wise the survey shows distinct differences between regions across the United States. The Northeast was quite a bit more likely to do business if strict masking protocols were followed with 80.6% supporting masking. The Midwest was somewhat lukewarm with 68.4% saying they don’t mind stricter protocols.
Irrespective of your political views the safety of both customers and staff should be of paramount importance. A safe and healthy environment not only protects employees from injury and illness but maintains productivity. It lowers healthcare costs, reduces absenteeism, raises morale and mitigates staff turnover.
Besides being the right thing to do, businesses are legally required to provide a safe environment for their customers. Even in times when there is push back over protocols that might be unpopular. There is no compromise over safety.
Safety protocols such as wearing masks are important for everyone’s safety. These protocols help to ensure employees and customers do not injure or risk their health while conducting business. Safety protocols from the perspective of the business help maintain certification, avoid legal liabilities and of course improve operations. Customers who know that a business does not compromise with their health and safety are put at ease. They are inclined to do business with them simply because they are assured, they are not put at risk.
COVID-19 has changed the world and our way of life. In these uncertain times, it is even more important for businesses to continue to provide services safely. Business owners need to take the lead in terms of educating both staff and customers of health risks. They should also clearly communicate the safety protocols are meant for the benefit of everyone. Your relationship with your customers isn’t simply transactional. It is based on mutual understanding and concern for each other’s welfare. As businesses open up, the key is to adapt to the new way of doing business and making safety a priority.