Latest MRI-Simmons COVID-19 Study Reveals Dramatic Changes in American Attitudes and Behavior

The number of Nervous Americans is increasing, planning to be more cautious in the future

NEW YORK, June 15, 2020 -- MRI-Simmons, the essential consumer truth set, today announced the release of its latest COVID-19 Consumer Study, providing in-depth analysis of consumer behaviors and attitudes resulting from the COVID-19 crisis. Among its many findings, the latest study revealed increases in the number of Americans who feel “Nervous” as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, as well as those who claim they will be a lot more cautious in what they do and how they do it going forward. The study also revealed concerns amongst consumers around personal privacy, as technologies like contact tracing are considered to fight COVID-19.

Attitudes

As state and local authorities begin to ease lockdowns and quarantine orders, Americans are clearly very different emotionally than just six weeks ago. Thirty-nine percent of Americans report feeling Nervous due to COVID-19, up 11% from the previous wave. And 69% of Americans identify with a “Live and Learn” attitude, reporting they will be a lot more cautious in the future – a 25% increase from the previous wave.

Which of the following best describes you as a result of COVID-19?
(Vertical %)
Source: MRI-Simmons COVID-19 Consumer Study

April 2020

June 2020

% Change

Accepting - I believe in fate, whatever is meant to be will be

65%

61%

-6%

Nervous - My world is forever altered, and I feel uneasy

35%

39%

+11%

 

Which of the following best describes what your behavior is likely to be as a result of COVID-19?
(Vertical %)
Source: MRI-Simmons COVID-19 Consumer Study

April 2020

June 2020

% Change

Bounce-Back – I will go right back to living the way I did

45%

31%

-31%

Live and Learn – I will be a lot more cautious in what I do and how I do it

55%

69%

+25%

Privacy Concerns

When asked about their willingness to download a contact tracing app to their phone, the ‘Accepting’ and ‘Nervous’ segments certainly diverge, as Nervous Americans are 14% more likely to participate compared to adults 18+.

While the majority of Americans agree they would be willing to give up some privacy to fight COVID-19, the list of entities they trust with their personal information is a short one. More than half of adults trust Universities to collect data in a way that protects their identity and personal data. The same, however, is not true of tech companies and the government, where consumers cite concerns that those institutions may use their personal data for reasons other than COVID-19.

How much do you agree/disagree with the following statements about "contact tracing" apps or similar potential technologies and their possible use?
(Top 2 box: Agree Somewhat / Agree Completely)
May 2020
Source: MRI-Simmons COVID-19 Study

Adults 18+

Accepting

Nervous

I am willing to give up some privacy in order to prevent the spread of illnesses like COVID-19.

56%

52%

63%

I am ok being tracked to provide info to public health officials to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

54%

50%

61%

I am ok being tracked so I can protect myself and my family.

52%

49%

58%

I am willing to download an app on my phone so I can be tracked for exposure to COVID-19.

48%

43%

55%

 

 

 

 

I trust universities to collect the data in a way that protects my identity and personal data.

54%

52%

57%

I trust tech companies to use the data collected solely for combatting COVID-19.

44%

45%

43%

 

 

 

 

It's important to me that my data remain anonymous throughout tracking COVID-19.

84%

83%

86%

I worry about personal data being hacked through a contact tracing app.

78%

76%

81%

I am concerned that tech tracking measures put in place to deal with COVID-19 will erode our personal privacy rights in the future.

76%

74%

78%

I worry tech companies will sell my personal data gained through this type of app.

76%

74%

80%

I worry the government will use the data beyond tracking the spread of COVID-19.

74%

73%

75%

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, more and more Americans are feeling uneasy and are implementing significant behavioral changes to deal with the crisis,” said Karen Ramspacher, SVP Innovation and Insights at MRI-Simmons. “We believe this will have huge implications, not only for the way Americans adjust to their new normal, but also for brands who will need to create the right conditions to make consumers feel comfortable re-engaging.”.”

Attitudes on the ‘New Normal’

When it comes to adjusting to their “new normal” lifestyles, Americans have conditions.

When asked what practices would be needed to make them feel comfortable engaging in their usual activities, frequent restaurant diners say that limiting customers in the restaurant (53%), sanitizing tables after each customer leaves (50%), and spacing out visitors/seating (50%) are the top practices they hope to see. Frequent movie goers want to see theaters provide hand sanitizer for patrons (39%), and four in ten want to see theaters space out seating to separate patrons. And for frequent mall and shopping center patrons, limiting customers (45%) and providing hand sanitizer (43%) are most cited.

Practices needed to make you feel comfortable going to/using the following:
(% agree completely/somewhat)
May 2020
Source: MRI-Simmons COVID-19 Study

Frequent Restaurant Diners
(3+ times past 30 days)

Frequent Movie-Goers
(1+ times a month)

Frequent Department Store Shoppers
(3+ times past 30 days)

Allowing less people in

53%

40%

45%

Providing hand sanitizer

49%

39%

43%

Providing disinfecting wipes for visitors to use

42%

33%

39%

Regularly visibly wiping down surfaces

46%

38%

38%

Offering face masks

30%

32%

35%

Sanitizing between every visitor

50%

35%

35%

Spacing out visitors / seating

50%

40%

33%

Contactless payment available (tap to pay credit card, Venmo, Google Pay, etc.)

30%

29%

33%

Checking temperatures of visitors

31%

26%

28%

 

About the COVID-19 Consumer Insights Study

The MRI-Simmons COVID-19 Consumer Insights Study explores attitudes and behaviors related to the pandemic, including the impact COVID-19 has had on product purchases and intent, delayed, postponed and cancelled activities, media usage and preferences by category and platform, and much more. The April COVID-19 Study was an online study fielded March 26th to April 2nd, 2020​, across a nationally representative sample of 2,500 adults in the US. The June COVID-19 Study was an online study fielded May 12th to May 19th, 2020 across a nationally representative sample of 5000 adults in the US. Final data was weighted and projected to the US population for tabulation and fused to MRI-Simmons national datasets for deeper profiling.

About MRI-Simmons

MRI-Simmons is the leading provider of insights on the American consumer. With thousands of attitudinal and behavioral data points, gathered through ongoing surveys and passive measurement, MRI-Simmons empowers advertisers, agencies and media companies with deeper insights into the “why” behind consumer behavior.

MRI-Simmons combines best-practice survey methodologies with an innovative technology platform and advanced data visualizations. MRI’s Survey of the American Consumer® is the industry standard for magazine audience ratings. In parallel, the company has been at the forefront of innovation, significantly accelerating the time to insights for brand builders, strategists, planners and sales regardless of their data acumen.

Launched as a joint venture in 2019, MRI-Simmons is co-owned by GfK and SymphonyAI Group, with GfK as the majority partner. To learn more, visit https://mrisimmons.com, or follow @MRI-Simmons on Twitter.

 

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Media Contact:

Matt Cumello

Senior Director, Marketing
press.ms@mrisimmons.com