In its “Wave 20,” The Harris Poll, conducted between July 10 and 12, data found that consumer ideology may be causing great stress. Data found that more than half of Americans “have not been tested and don’t think they should.”
Despite news of states finding more cases of coronavirus, and those who have been tested saying it is fast, convenient and accessible, nearly 85 percent of respondents told The Harris Poll said they had not been tested in the last two weeks. Still, 80 percent of Americans are concerned about a second coronavirus outbreak in their area.
Moreover, the company found 58 percent of Americans feel more stressed today compared to normal stress levels pre-pandemic. According to the company, some media sources are more stressful to viewers than others with 72 percent of respondents who “frequently consume news from Breibart and Fox more stressed out than normal.” Another 68 percent who frequent social media, including Facebook, for news also experienced an increase in stress levels.
Ideologies also served to amplify stress. Almost half of the respondents who say they are opposed to mandatory masks are “extremely or somewhat more stressed out than normal” and another 51 percent who oppose taking down monuments and statues also report more stress. While 11 percent said they are dealing with stress by going to therapy almost two-thirds have turned to watch TV to cope.
Still, a majority of Americans continue to be in favor of mandatory mask-wearing with 77 percent of Americans across gender and generation responding in favor of the practice. Seventy-six percent also say they “believe businesses should enact and enforce” mandatory mask policies.
In a separate report from Silvur, American’s increasing anxiety has further impacted consumer behavior during the pandemic. Millennials are the most likely generation to be experiencing increased anxiety, according to the company’s data, followed by Generation X.
This anxiety is largely being driven by fear of the future. In its report, Silvur finds 82 percent of Americans reported that “worry about their future is driving the anxiety at least somewhat.” While just over half of respondents saying stress was linked to financial anxiety, data also showed that 50 percent of the respondents are currently living paycheck to paycheck and with some debt.
Consumer behavior has shifted in response with 72.4 percent of respondents saying the pandemic has changed the way they think about spending. Almost half of the survey’s respondents say they plan to continue money-saving habits they have developed during the pandemic and another 34.5 percent say they specifically plan to start saving an emergency fund. All generations said they “can live with fewer luxuries.”
Meanwhile, a survey from Ernst & Young LLP finds retail anxiety will persist and consumers are certain they will not go back to pre-pandemic behaviors. In the third edition of its Future Consumer Index taken during the coronavirus pandemic, EY data shows “extreme reactions of excess cutting or spending” has become more pronounced over the last month.
Beyond COVID-19, EY predicts five consumer segments will emerge. The largest segment — health first — predicts consumers will make future decisions that will “protect their health and that of their family before anything else.” This group will choose brands and products that they deem safe and, therefore, transparent. This group will also continue to shop online to minimize unnecessary risks.
Another segment of consumers who value affordability first, tied in EY’s predictions for the largest segment to emerge post-pandemic. These price-conscious consumers will prioritize “living within their means” and look out for deals. This group is likely not to be brand loyal and will value price transparency.
A society-first segment is predicted to emerge as a group of consumers who are purpose-driven and believe “we should work together for the greater good. This group prioritizes honesty and transparency. Similarly, a planet-first segment is predicted to be led by purpose. This group differs as they are led by concern for personal impact on the world. Consumers within the planet-first segment will own less and “won’t mind having fewer choices for what they buy if it means they’re doing the right thing for future generations.”
The smallest and final segment, experience first, differs from society-first and planet-first groups most. These consumers prioritize personalization and enjoy purchasing new things. This group will look for “moments that will enrich their personal lives.”
Across almost all segments, a demand for transparency is present. And further, EY predicts the digitally enabled consumer journey will be powered by transparency. In fact, the company’s data found 87 percent of consumers say that a transparent source is important when making a purchase decision.
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