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Our newest Prosumer Report, ‘Health and Hygiene in the Post-COVID-19 Era,’ investigates reactions to the current global health crisis.

The threat we have all faced over the past year has heightened awareness of the dangers surrounding us each day. More than 9 in 10 Prosumers surveyed said COVID-19 has underscored that a strong healthcare system is essential to a strong economy. But how is it that an event taking place globally has been met with such a wide range of reactions, varying by country and culture? For instance, only half of French Prosumers trust the institutions that promote the vaccines, whereas three-quarters or more do in China and Norway. Going further, 72% of respondents in the UK and 54% in the US believe that refusing to be vaccinated puts others at risk; less than a third of the French agree.

This study, fielded at the beginning of 2021, draws on responses from more than 15,000 participants across 31 markets. It provides a cross-cultural perspective on reactions to the pandemic and also explores the new expectations of Prosumers regarding health, the medical community, and brands.

Among the key findings:

Same pandemic, different reactions: Which comes first: your health or the health of the economy? In China and Russia, more than 9 in 10 Prosumers believe the pandemic has revealed that their government prioritises citizens’ health over the economy. In contrast, more than 6 in 10 Prosumers in Brazil and the US feel their nations have prioritised the economy over their health.

Collective-minded vs. individual-driven: The global pandemic has put our cultural differences in the limelight: 91% of Chinese Prosumers are willing to support their government and healthcare authorities by sharing personal information to help prevent widespread collective disease. In comparison, only around half of American Prosumers and 32% of French Prosumers are willing to do so.

Trust is the greatest weapon: In the age of pandemic, trust in science, scientists, and government authorities has become a critical component of mitigation efforts. While most global Prosumers expressed faith in the COVID-19 vaccines available at the time of the study, nearly two-thirds of those in the Czech Republic and around half of Prosumers in France and Belgium did not. Among Prosumers who don’t trust the vaccines, the vast majority (83%) worry that the development process was “too rushed,” while—more worryingly—around a third simply don’t trust the people and institutions promoting the vaccines.

Shifting from individual to collective responsibility: 90% of Prosumers agree it is everyone’s responsibility to take care of their health and avoid contributing to system overload, but there is widespread disagreement on what sanctions should be applied to those who fail to do so. While a majority of respondents in Eastern nations (e.g., China, 53%; India, 64%) agree that “people who don’t maintain their health should pay extra for health insurance / healthcare expenses,” the European nations of Belgium (30%) and France (27%), on balance, disagreed.

We’ve become hygiene freaks: Hygiene has taken centre stage during the pandemic. A large majority of Prosumers (87%) think strict hygiene is essential to our personal health, and 85% say keeping a clean home will become part of their regular health regimen. However, this fear should not be at the expense of social connections: 60% of Prosumers think that having very strict sanitary and hygiene rules is depriving us of the spice of life.

Health forward, your updated physician: Prosumers want to see a new approach from their physicians, with over 75% expressing a desire for their doctors to behave more like health coaches rather than just prescribing drugs. But there is a divide in the extent to which people want to see certain healthcare advances based in science and technology. For instance, while 44% of US respondents think the use of “big data” in medicine will provide tailored treatments for each patient, only 33% of French agree. And while 41% of Chinese respondents would be willing to have their DNA edited to protect their future children from potential diseases, only 9% of French respondents would do so.

Pharma companies have a trust deficit: Despite pharmaceutical companies’ role in providing life-saving tests, treatments, and vaccines for COVID-19, only 1% of Prosumers consider them their most trusted source of health information. For these brands to build consumer trust, a shift in perceptions is vital. That starts with being honest and open: 81% of Prosumers think pharma companies should be more transparent about their medications. It’s also about accessibility: 3 in 4 Prosumers saying pharma companies have a responsibility to keep prices low so that treatments are affordable for all. And finally, it’s about innovation: Nearly 8 in 10 Prosumers think pharma companies are at the centre of the healthcare system’s science and innovation. However, they are not in this race alone: 42% believe that future advances in health will be led by Amazon, Google, and other tech giants.

How can brands help? When it comes to health and hygiene, a majority of both Prosumers and mainstream consumers indicated a willingness to start a journey of change and go from information to practice. But to do so, they’re going to need guidance:

  1. Inform: 60% of Prosumers signaled they expect their favourite brands to offer health and wellness information they can rely on.
  2. Educate: 77% expect cleaning brands to offer tutorials and new products/services that help them better manage their home hygiene.
  3. Empower: 44% expect their favourite brands to help them track the cleanliness of their favourite surroundings.
  4. Inspire: 62% expect their favourite brands to help them find smart ways to live a more hygienic/healthy lifestyle.
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