How COVID-19 is impacting culture and consumer behavior: March 9 – 13.
By C-K’s Brand Planning and PR/Social teams
As C-Kers, and millions around the world, work from home to help #FlattentheCurve, we are parsing through news and information about the COVID-19 pandemic to help our clients strategically navigate these unprecedented and uncertain times.
Each week we will share some key consumer behavioral trends that are taking shape in order to better understand the impact COVID-19 is having on businesses and pave the best way forward for brands.
Week of March 9 – 13
COVID-19 Fears Go Viral
81% of Americans say they’re concerned with COVID-19
- The largest fears are on the coasts (Washington state, California and NY).
- Women are slightly more concerned than men.
- Parents are twice as concerned as non-parents (47% vs 29%).
- Gen Xers and Baby Boomers more concerned than Millennials.
- Trending hashtags associated with COVID-19 include: #Coronapocalypse, #NationalEmergency, #CoronaOutbreak, #CoronavirusPandemic, #COVID19
- Top emojis associated with COVID-19 in the past month: 😂😭🔴👇😷
- On March 11, 2020, there were 20 million mentions of COVID-19-related terms vs. 2 million mentions of NBA cancellations.
Hunkering Down at Home
“The dining room is now my desk, mom, and I now need a computer to go to school.” – 6-year-old Chicago elementary school student
- Pantry preparation mania
- Contact-less on-demand deliver the new normal
- High speed streaming services now essential
- Parents working from home alongside kids learning from home
- The return of family togetherness—even if forced
Prepping Goes Mainstream
Hoarding, storing, escaping – all traits once associated with “extreme preppers” have now become mainstream.
- Freeze-dried food freak-out: camping foods/emergency meals are now on backorder for months. Oregon Freeze Dried, a leader in dried food, just reported a year-over-year February sales increase of 100%. Another leader in freeze dried food, Mountain House, temporarily shut down their website to deal with sky-rocketing demand this March.
- Panic buying: Toilet paper shortages along with hand sanitizers, disinfecting wipes and dry goods are all selling out.
To Travel or Not to Travel?
- Young adults are capitalizing on cheap airline flights
- “When I came back from Japan with my husband, our companies made us work remotely for three weeks, so we decided to hop a plane and work from Hawaii.” -California Millennial Consumer
- Not everyone wants to sit at home: trading plane trips for road trips.
- The great outdoors is another great getaway from the coronavirus chaos.
- While business travel, both international and domestic, comes to a screeching halt, some opportunists are making the most of bad times.
- Business Travel Restricted: Most corporations for the near term have banned all business travel and are requiring employees to report their personal travel plans to their HR offices.
- 67% of frequent business travelers cancelled planned trips they have in the next 60 days, and this number is expected to be higher with recent travel restrictions announced by the U.S. government in the last few days. (Coronavirus and the State of the U.S. Consumer)
- Keep Out: In effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the U.S., Poland and Denmark are temporarily closing their borders to foreign travelers, with more expected to do the same.
The Fun is Cancelled
Bans on large group gatherings has led to a domino-effect cancellation of social and cultural events across the U.S.
- Sporting events, Broadway shows, cultural institutions and concerts all shut down. Late night TV shows have no audiences. We have few distractions to ease tensions, leaving us even more isolated. People are now wondering what to cheer for.
- Cancel culture hits hard as the social distancing demand rises: Heightened paranoia and concerns about “flattening the curve” are causing people to avoid everywhere from stores, restaurants, movie theaters and public transit. Even weddings and other major life events face disruption.
- “People’s inboxes now are just all cancellation, cancellation, cancellation.”– Kristin Banta, event planner, LA
- Xenophobia, particularly toward Asian cultures, is on the rise as consumers attempt to avoid illness.“As the coronavirus has spread from China to other countries, anti-Asian discrimination has followed closely behind, manifesting in plummeting sales at Chinese restaurants, near-deserted Chinatown districts and racist bullying against people perceived to be Chinese.”
Hygiene in High Gear
- 42% of consumers purchased at least one prevention product in the past week that they wouldn’t have purchased in the past, with hand sanitizers at the top of the list.
- Longer lines in men’s bathrooms, attributed to more men washing their hands. Handwashing is highlighted as one of the major methods of avoiding spread and previous CDC research showed 69% of men don’t wash their hands regularly after using the bathroom.
- The Golden Age of handwashing: The COVID-19 world pandemic has come with the emergence of a plethora of handwashing tutorials—many put out by comedians, entertainers and TikTokers throughout the globe, all reminding us of the importance of basic good hygiene and proper handwashing.