Marketing Faculty Publications and Presentations

Identifying consumer segments based on COVID-19 pandemic perceptions and responses

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Consumer responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have varied widely. Thus, marketers need to understand consumer segments based on pandemic-related responses and behaviors. Through two studies conducted 9 months apart, we find that consumers shift from three segments in Study 1—the Apprehensive, the Prepared, and the Dismissive, to two segments in Study 2—the Dedicated and the Dismissive. The Apprehensive feel particularly threatened of the virus. The Prepared and the Dedicated perceive a lower susceptibility but still take the health threat seriously. The Dismissive downplay the threat and exhibit more negative reactions to mitigation measures. We also demonstrate between-segment downstream response differences. While the Apprehensive and the Prepared/Dedicated exhibit positive attitude toward companies enforcing guidelines, the Apprehensive engage in the most panic buying, hoarding, and stockpiling. The Dedicated also express greater stress and less life satisfaction than the Dismissive. The findings offer theoretical and practical implications for pandemic-related consumer responses.


© 2021 American Council on Consumer Interests. Original published version available at

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Journal of Consumer Affairs