One year and 19 in-depth consumer tracking studies later, and Americans are feeling far more "hopeful" and less "worried," "scared" and "confused," but also more "overwhelmed," "stressed," "sad," and "frustrated" by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. That's the conclusion of Wave 19 (fielded Feb. 24) vs. Wave 1 (fielded March 11, 2020) of Mindshare's COVID-19 tracking study, perhaps the greatest longitudinal piece of research conducted by a media agency about the effects of an existential threat on the sentiment of American consumers.
Oddly, the study also finds American consumers feel much less "prepared" for the impact of COVID-19 than they felt one year ago, despite the fact that effective vaccines have been developed and are making their way through a significant percentage of the population, and that a $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill is expected to be signed into law this week.
The study also shows some variances by consumer segment, with the Gen Z population still feeling more anxious and overwhelmed than other generations, while Millennials are most likely to feel happy, and Gen X and Boomers are most likely to feel hopeful.
"Those with lower incomes are more likely to feel happy and overwhelmed, while those with higher incomes are feeling confident and worried," the latest report also notes, adding: "Women are much more likely to feel the negative emotions (tired, overwhelmed, etc) vs. men who are feeling prepared and confident."
That said, the most recent wave of Mindshare's study also asked various segments whether they think "life will go back to normal this year," and found that overall, 55% of Americans expect life to normalize, with Millennials and Gen Xers most likely to feel that way (see below).
How advertisers and media buyers can utilize these insights may be relative to various categories, but the most recent wave also shows significant percentages of Americans feel media has helped them get through the pandemic -- especially TV, streaming services and social media (see bottom), although family and friends ranked the highest.