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Consumer Vulnerability During COVID-19: The Impact of Fear and Age on Consumer Behavior and Business Strategy

Helena Sá Domingues (Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Portugal)
Marcelo Augusto Linardi (Universidade da Beira Interior, Portugal)
Susana Costa e Silva (Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Portugal)
Paulo Duarte (Universidade da Beira Interior, Portugal)

International Business in Times of Crisis: Tribute Volume to Geoffrey Jones

ISBN: 978-1-80262-164-8, eISBN: 978-1-80262-163-1

Publication date: 14 March 2022

Abstract

Purpose: This research investigates the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on Portuguese and Brazilian consumers’ vulnerability in contrasting age groups. It seeks to establish the relationship between fear of COVID-19 and the pandemic’s impact on customer’s vulnerability to help companies design strategies to cope with this new market context and be prepared to address these vulnerabilities in a future international health crisis.

Design/Methodology/Approach: This study employs a quantitative research method to assess the different impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on consumer vulnerability. Based on Portuguese and Brazilian residents’ surveys, an age/country-segmented cross-cultural multi-group analysis was performed to understand the differences in vulnerability.

Findings: Outcomes proved how the pandemic aggravates distinctively the vulnerability dimensions of consumers living in Portugal and Brazil. Besides, results highlight significant differences in consumers’ vulnerability during the pandemic given their age group. A positive correlation between age and fear of COVID-19 was also verified.

Value: Results were obtained based on consumers’ perceptions and scores rather than postulated behaviors. The findings highlight the need for health prevention measures to avoid neglecting existing vulnerable groups, whilst verifying how COVID-19 has managed to proliferate consumers’ vulnerability. Suggestions are drawn for both firms and governments based on obtained results and existing literature. Exemplar business strategies to avoid these vulnerabilities are put forward and discussed. The potential business advantages of firms shaping their activity according to their customers’ current vulnerabilities, during international pandemics, are also pointed.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Acknowledgment

The authors would like to thank NECE – Research Unit in Business Sciences funded by the Multiannual Funding Programme of R&D Centres of FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, under the project UIDB/04630/2020 and to CEGE – Research Centre in Management and Economics, funded by the Multiannual Funding Programme of R&D Centres of FCT – Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, under the project UIDB/00731/2020.

Citation

Domingues, H.S., Linardi, M.A., Silva, S.C.e. and Duarte, P. (2022), "Consumer Vulnerability During COVID-19: The Impact of Fear and Age on Consumer Behavior and Business Strategy", van Tulder, R., Verbeke, A., Piscitello, L. and Puck, J. (Ed.) International Business in Times of Crisis: Tribute Volume to Geoffrey Jones (Progress in International Business Research, Vol. 16), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 313-340. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1745-886220220000016016

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022 Helena Sá Domingues, Marcelo Augusto Linardi, Susana Costa e Silva and Paulo Duarte