Latest MRI-Simmons COVID-19 Study Reveals Key Attitudes that Influence American Behavior

‘Bounce-Back’ and ‘Live & Learn’ segments driving back-to-school and return-to-business choices

NEW YORK, September 9, 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 ongoing study showed continued increases in the number of Americans who feel ‘Nervous’ as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, as well as those who identify behaviorally as ‘Live & Learn’ – a group that plans to be more cautious in what they do and how they do it. The study also revealed attitudinal differences on back-to-school, business re-openings, and future vaccination plans.

General Attitudes

While the country continues to experience varying levels of restrictions, with some states transitioning in and out of lockdown scenarios, Americans are becoming more nervous and cautious as a result. Forty-one percent of Americans report feeling ‘Nervous’ due to COVID-19, up 6 percentage points from April. And 71% of Americans identify with a ‘Live & Learn’ attitude, reporting they will be a lot more cautious in the future – up 16 percentage points since April.


Which of the following best describes you as a result of COVID-19?
(Vertical %)

Source: MRI-Simmons COVID-19 Consumer Study, Apr – Aug 2020

April
2020

June
2020

August
2020

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

65%

61%

59%

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

35%

39%

41%

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, Apr – Aug 2020

April
2020

June
2020

August
2020

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

45%

31%

29%

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

55%

69%

71%

Back to School

As school districts across the country reveal their plans for the 2020-2021 school year, American parents are divided on the best course of action. Forty-four percent of American parents prefer at-home schooling, while just 13% prefer their children go back to school full time. Looking at the attitudinal segments, half of the ‘Live & Learn’ group (those who plan to be more cautious) want their children to be at home full time, while only 27% of ‘Bounce-Backs’ want to go that route.


Thinking ahead, please tell us which ONE of the following scenarios you would prefer for children returning to school
(Base: Parents with kids aged 3-17 in HH)

Source: MRI-Simmons COVID-19 Study, Aug 2020

All
Parents

Bounce-Back
Parents

Live
& Learn

Parents

Full time at home

44%

27%

50%

Part time in school with protocols

19%

15%

21%

Full time in school with protocols

13%

24%

8%

Choice of in-person or remote

24%

34%

20%

The ‘Bounce-Back’ and ‘Live & Learn’ segments also diverge when it comes to attitudes on wearing face masks and adoption of a future vaccine. Ninety-one percent of the ‘Live & Learn’ segment feel that wearing a face mask should be required, a full 37 percentage points higher than the ‘Bounce-Back’ segment. The two groups are slightly less divided when it comes to vaccination plans. Interestingly, half of Americans said they planned to get vaccinated as soon as a vaccine becomes available, even if the trials were rushed.

How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements about society and COVID-19?
(Base: Adults 18+, Any agree)

Source: MRI-Simmons COVID-19 Study, Aug 2020

Adults 18+

Bounce-
Back

Live
& Learn

Wearing a face mask/covering in public should be required because it helps slow the spread of the virus

80%

54%

91%

Wearing a face mask in public should not be required because no one has the right to tell me what to do

20%

46%

9%

I plan to get vaccinated as soon as a vaccine becomes available even if the trials were rushed

50%

43%

53%

Social Gatherings

With many states lifting stay-at-home orders over the past couple of months, Americans report varying levels of comfort with social gatherings. Nearly 70% of adults are comfortable going to a friend’s house or being in an open space like a park or a beach, but those numbers shrink as the social gathering sizes increase. The ‘Bounce-Back’ segment (those who plan to go back to living life the way they used to) diverges significantly from the rest of the country, with 60% or more of the segment being comfortable returning to virtually all sizes of social gatherings.


Please tell us how comfortable you’d be with each of the following sizes of social gatherings:
(very comfortable or somewhat comfortable)

Source: MRI-Simmons COVID-19 Study, August 2020

Adults 18+

Bounce-
Back

Live
& Learn

A friend’s house

69%

86%

63%

Open space like a city park or beach

69%

84%

62%

Very large venue like a ballpark or soccer field

57%

72%

50%

A small building

39%

66%

28%

Large enclosed building like a school, business or mall

37%

62%

26%

Very large enclosed building like an arena or convention center

32%

57%

21%

The COVID-19 crisis has caused significant changes to the consumer psyche,” said Karen Ramspacher, SVP Innovation and Insights at MRI-Simmons. “For marketers, understanding the attitudes and future intentions of these COVID-19 attitudinal segments will be critical to bridging the gap between what they’re feeling today, and how their behaviors will change tomorrow.”

Back to Business

The reopening of American business meant the implementation of safety protocols to ensure the well-being of customers. When asked how satisfied or dissatisfied they were with the safety protocols put in place by various business categories, people’s satisfaction is higher in settings where more control and spacing can be effectively implemented, like doctor’s offices and grocery stores. Conversely, beaches/public parks (35%), airlines (34%), and gym/fitness centers (32%) ranked highest for dissatisfaction amongst consumers.


Please tell us how satisfied or dissatisfied you are with the safety protocols put in place to ensure your well-being during the COVID-19 crisis in each of the following places.
(Base: Adults 18+)

Source: MRI-Simmons COVID-19 Study, August 2020

Satisfied
(satisfied or very satisfied)

Dissatisfied
(dissatisfied or very dissatisfied)

Beaches/public parks

65%

35%

Airlines

66%

34%

Gym/fitness centers

69%

32%

Malls/shopping centers

74%

26%

Breweries/wineries

74%

26%

Restaurants

78%

22%

Car dealerships

78%

22%

Salons/spas/barber shops

79%

21%

Convenience stores

81%

19%

Gas stations

83%

17%

Large retail chains

83%

17%

Banks/financial institutions

86%

14%

Grocery stores

88%

12%

Doctor/dentist offices

89%

11%

To learn more:

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 August COVID-19 Study was an online study fielded July 16th to August 1st, 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 mrisimmons.com, or follow @MRISimmons on Twitter.


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Matt Cumello
Senior Director, Marketing
press.ms@mrisimmons.com