Americans Want Brands to Do Their Part Against Coronavirus, Then Advertise

Shoppers are ready to spend once the crisis is over

harris poll with coronavirus decals
Americans expect things to go back to normal in about seven months. The Harris Poll, Getty Images
Headshot of Mónica Marie Zorrilla

Americans are optimistic that their lives will go back to normal (or whatever normalcy will look like post-pandemic) in about seven months, but they’ll be going about their ordinary routines with more caution. It might take a bit longer to forgo “quarantainment” for entertainment such as traveling, or visiting their local eateries and social spots.

Since the beginning of March, The Harris Poll, a market research and global consulting firm, has been surveying public sentiment about the coronavirus outbreak. The fifth wave of the COVID-19 Tracker, based on the responses of 2,016 U.S. adults polled March 28-30, spanned a broad range of topics including the economy, healthcare, jobs, education and mental health.

Here’s how they say life has changed under the limitations imposed by coronavirus, how they see related marketing and their sentiments about the future.

Ambivalence about marketing related to COVID-19

Opinions about advertisements discussing the novel coronavirus are mixed.

While 40% of respondents think it’s a good thing for brands to find a way to stay relevant amid the coronavirus outbreak, a third feel that marketers should only advertise if they’ve taken direct action to address the situation.

A quarter of the survey’s participants believe that marketers are just tying brands to the pandemic for publicity, and most perceive these efforts as contrived, forced and inauthentic, especially if those brands and companies have not been behaving in favorable ways during the crisis.

Forty-four percent of Americans polled said they only rarely or sometimes engaged with COVID-19-related ads, and 40% said they never do.

Everything can be ‘quarantainment’

Leisure activities and social media are riding a consumption high as more Americans seek “quarantainment” to get them through the monotony of seclusion.

Nearly 60% of Americans surveyed are watching more broadcast TV; 56% are using their smartphone more, including 50% who are streaming more television; and 35% are reading more books.

Young adults and parents have also increased their use of social media by 60%. Apps for news, virtual meetings, playing music and gaming have also seen a significant rise in consumption.

More than a third of parents reported increased usage of wellness apps, which is nearly double the number of adults surveyed without children (19%).

Small business owners are struggling, but most remain optimistic

According to another recent Harris Poll report, almost 75% of small business owners surveyed said revenue was down since the start of the pandemic; 28% of those surveyed said revenue was down by more than 50%.

Nevertheless, a large majority of those small business owners (83%) are optimistic their businesses can survive under two weeks of the current conditions. Confidence waned slightly by the one-month mark (75%), and only 58% of poll participants believed their business could stay alive during a three-month shutdown.

Sixty percent of these small business owners felt supported by their community during this trying time.

Americans are planning to both spend and save

Harris researchers pointed to growing pent-up demand during this lull as a silver lining for both the travel and hospitality industries, as well as small businesses hunkering down through financial difficulties.

By the first month after “normalization,” most survey participants (63%) marked a willingness to resume routine activity like going into the office. Forty-three percent of respondents said they would visit restaurants by the first month post-pandemic, while about 69% said they’d treat themselves to dining out within three months.

Within a month, 20% were willing to stay in a hotel; that number jumped to 44% within three months, and 65% by six months.

While Americans are planning to spend once they’re free to venture outside of their homes, they’re also making a commitment to prepare for another disaster by saving up.

Nearly 60% of survey participants said they would keep more money in savings to prepare for another possibly pandemic, and 32% said they would stockpile nonperishable foods.


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@monicroqueta monica.zorrilla@adweek.com Mónica is a breaking news reporter at Adweek.
Publish date: April 2, 2020 https://stage.adweek.com/brand-marketing/americans-want-brands-to-do-their-part-against-coronavirus-then-advertise/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT
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