05 May RETURN TO NORMALITY? A Pulse on USA Consumer Normality Week 7
The USA Normality Index is now the highest it has been since we commenced the study seven weeks ago and it appears that it bottomed out on 13 and 20 Apr. Finally, there is early evidence that there is an upward swing towards normality.
Fielded 1 – 3 May 2020
US National Representative Sample
4 May (Week 7), n=800
Total sample to date, n= 5,600
The greatest shout out this week is for brands to STOP making unsubstantiated claims of “being there” for consumers. Such claims are wearing thin as consumer cynicism continues to climb.
This week we report a paradox of sorts. The USA Normality Index has achieved its highest result thus far of 55% (up from 52% last week) and yet, the expected duration to normality has been pushed out with 59% (up from 54% last week) of Americans now believing normality is at least six months away.
Meanwhile, there is some evidence that Americans believe the worst is behind them as they begin to edge their way back to normality. The ability to source household staples jumped up, whereas, being able to socialize remained in the doldrums.
IMPLICATIONS FOR POST COVID-19
The need to be selective in how brands build their recovery was once again reinforced in this week’s index. The highly buoyant Early Adapters rocketed to a staggering index of 83%. When you couple this with the regional differences such as, the divide on the eastern seaboard with the southeast sitting on 61% versus the northeast sitting on 48%, America is anything but homogeneous and nor should your marketing communications be.
Lastly, for those travel, leisure and restaurant businesses pinning their hopes on a sudden return to normality as regulations are lifted, the index reports some sobering news. For example, in the immediate term, assuming the regulations were lifted, only one quarter of Americans saw themselves hurrying back to restaurants.
THE NORMALITY INDEX
The Normality Index is now the highest it has been since we commenced the study seven weeks ago and it appears now that it bottomed out on 13 and 20 Apr. Finally, there is early evidence that there is an upward swing towards normality.
The authors have noted the upward swing coinciding with the flattening of the curve in new COVID-19 cases and a slowing in growth of unemployment filings. Next week, time series analysis will be used to understand the macroeconomic influences contributing to the index.
Another influential factor in this upswing may be the relaxing of social restrictions. However, people will continue to be cautious towards the resumption of normality. This was evidenced in the last week where restaurant restrictions were softened in New Zealand. Even with social restrictions relaxed, restaurants reported a 70% reduction on ordinary weekly earnings relative to pre-COVID-19. This accords with data below.
NOT A UNIVERSAL AMERICAN EXPERIENCE OF COVID-19
The higher the number the more ‘normal’ (Index benchmark is 100% = normal).
Americans are making steady progress towards normality. The greatest gain across the duration of the index has been that Americans are reporting their ability to buy household essentials has improved by 17% since 23 Mar.
Meanwhile, whilst the ability of Americans to socialize with friends and family continues to improve, it still remains 11% down since 23 Mar.
Eating in, continues to be a necessary substitute for socializing and attending restaurants. During this period, brands should take the once in a generation opportunity to encourage trial.
RETURNING TO NORMAL
Americans are asked when they predict the country will return to normality. Despite the Normality Index creeping upwards, the time horizon for returning to normality is also creeping outwards. Relative to one month ago, today, 18% more Americans believe the time taken to return to normal is at least six months away. Most brands need to adjust their time horizon for a sustained period of constrained growth and changed consumer preferences.
BRAND CLAIMS ENTER THE ZONE OF CYNICISM
REGULATION IS NOT THE SOLE IMPEDIMENT TO A RETURN TO NORMALITY
Americans are not being held back by regulatory sources but rather, fear of personal wellbeing.
Americans are asked if they personally know anyone who has been directly effected by COVID-19. They are also asked if they know anyone who has recovered from COVID-19. The seven-week trend of an increasing number of Americans knowing people who have recovered from COVID-19 continues.
Consistent with last week, this week more Americans personally knew someone who had recovered from COVID-19, than with a current diagnosis. That is, 45 million Americans have personal knowledge of survivors, an increase of 40% on the previous week.
It has been hypothesized that a primary driver of Americans believing that the health crisis is in hand, is knowing of someone who has recovered from COVID-19.
Note: Cohort insights based on rolled data from Mar 23 to 13 Apr. Segment data represented as a two-week rolling average.
WHO ARE EARLY ADAPTERS & HOME SAFE?
Key insights to assist Brands looking to engage with the Early Adapters and Home Safe groups.
Note: Cohort insights based on rolled data from Mar 23 to 13 Apr.
IN THE PAST WEEK
Americans maintained similar levels of behavior in the last week…