RETURN TO NORMALITY? A Pulse on USA Consumer Normality Week 4

RETURN TO NORMALITY? A Pulse on USA Consumer Normality Week 4

America: Home of the (too) Brave?

Americans’ sense of normality reached its lowest point this week at 46%.  That is 13% lower than four weeks ago, 54% lower compared to this time last year.

It seems that it is not the consequences of the virus that are driving perceptions of normality, but it is government actions in social distancing and isolation plus economic shutdown that is having the greatest impact on consumers.

Overall, Americans are responding to the COVID-19 crisis with a cautious, steady sense of life as normal.

Perceptions of normality reached a new low this week at 46%, a 13% decrease compared to four short weeks ago and 54% lower compared to this time last year.  Yet as we start to examine what is driving Americans’ sense of normality, and how they individually feel impacted, in the following pages, we see two elements appear:

  • Where the crisis is impacting day-to-day life, concerns Americans most.
  • Where there is no ability to control the outcome, for example the economy and their work life, Americans are holding steady.

At the time of publishing, America had the highest number of infected citizens of anywhere on earth and rising mortality rates.  In contrast, Australia has significantly lower infection and mortality rates, but also a significantly lower Normality score (35%).  This leaves us with a question: is America’s steady, and relatively optimistic normality score a portent of a future rebound or a misreading of the gravity of the circumstances?

THIS WEEK

Americans’ sense of normality reached its lowest point this week at 46%.  That is 13% lower than four weeks ago, 54% lower compared to this time last year.

It seems that it is not the consequences of the virus that are driving perceptions of normality, but it is government actions in social distancing and isolation plus economic shutdown that is having the greatest impact on consumers.

Is this a demonstration of Americans’ acceptance of a ‘new’ normal in which the newsroom headlines are no longer surprising?  Or does our sense of normality still have a long way to fall before the true consequences of COVID-19 are realized?

What will it take to return to normal? Right now, Americans are looking for economic improvement, as well as lifting of restrictions on day-to-day work and social life.

IMPLICATIONS FOR POST COVID-19

As more and more consumers start to adapt to a new normal with no clear end date, the need for brands to shift their focus to understanding the new landscape continues to be of critical importance.

What is driving consumption decisions now?  And importantly, how can my product, service and brand adapt to align with these new demands?

We need to consider how consumption decisions are shifting to ensure our brands are empathetic, and relevant to changing consumer sentiment.

 

PREDICTORS OF RETURNING TO NORMALITY

This model explains the relative importance of everyday aspects of life driving a return to normality.  Feeling confident in the economy and feeling comfortable to be out in public are the top drivers predicting a return to normality – improvements in these aspects will signal the green shoots that ‘normal’ is re-emerging.

 

American consumers will not feel normal until:

1. They feel confident in the economy

2. They feel comfortable to be out in public

3. They are able to attend school/college/work as usual

4. They are able to socialize with friends and family

 

WHAT’S NORMAL? 
The higher the number the more ‘normal’ (Index benchmark is 100% = normal).

The general decline in Americans’ confidence in important areas of society, and ability to engage in day-to-day behaviors continued over the past four weeks.

In just one month we have seen the most significant decline relate to Americans’ ability to socialize with family and friends (45%, down from 63% on 23 Mar), a 29% decline in how they are feeling about this important personal freedom. 

It is interesting to observe that people are most concerned about the issues which are impacting them most closely for example, since 23 March 2020:

  • Feeling comfortable to be out in public has fallen 17%
  • Ability to access healthcare as usual has fallen 12%;
  • Ability to attend school, college or work as usual has fallen 17%;

And issues which they can not control remain relatively stable.

  

Week 5 results available Monday April 20, 2020

US National Representative sample, n=800
Access the Nomality Index data below