The American economy depends on jobs created by small businesses, which account for 64% of new jobs created every year. Some of the best-run U.S. small businesses are those participating in the Small Business Administration’s 8(a) program. The annual review required to maintain eligibility in the program can seem onerous to some, but it ensures participating firms are adequately capitalized and operating in a stable manner. An annual business plan review is beneficial to all companies, but for 8(a) firms, the mandate prompts them to align their efforts with changes in the market to ensure they have a plan to respond.
March 2021 marks the one-year anniversary of the official declaration of COVID-19 as a pandemic by the World Health Organization. The first case of coronavirus was reported in the U.S. in January 2020. Two months later, the infection rate was accelerating, prompting former President Trump to declare novel coronavirus a national emergency, unlocking billions of dollars in federal funding to mitigate the spread. What ensued was unprecedented. Worldwide quarantines shuttered businesses, churches, and schools, bringing life as we knew it to a screeching halt. Sports arenas were silent. Streets were vacant, and grocery store shelves bare.
2020 has been one of the most polarizing years in recent history. A global pandemic decimated the economy. The murders of Ahmaud Aubrey, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd sparked a worldwide outcry for social justice. And the presidential election and ensuing calls for recounts and litigation gripped the nation while the world watched. All of these events culminated in a complex display of cultural dynamics that influence contemporary consumer attitudes and behavior. In our 2020 ThinkNow Year-End Report, we examine the effects of these influences through a multicultural lens to provide actionable insights on key consumer trends to watch heading into 2021.
From grocery stores to airline flights, America’s debate over wearing face masks is playing out on small and large screens globally. What was once seen as a medical imperative has become politicized. Some see mask mandates as an infringement on their constitutional rights, and others, a patriotic duty. According to our research, however, most Americans have this collective request, “wear a damn mask.” ThinkNow conducted a nationwide online survey among American adults ages 18 to 64 to get their perspective on COVID-19 and wearing face coverings.
Nothing helps bolster an argument more than citing a research study that proves your point with statistics. A quick Google search can pull up numerous results of supporting data to prove just about anything. Even flat earthers can “prove” their theories with “research” they find online. The explosion of DIY survey tools has made it possible for anyone with a keyboard to create a “poll” and disseminate the results. The challenge is data integrity, which is often sorely lacking here. To help cut through the clutter of bad research and avoid destroying your credibility by citing it, here are some guidelines to follow when making your assessments.
Marketing managers have difficult jobs. They are expected to be psychologists, storytellers, salespeople, and fortune tellers. Engineers and product developers don’t understand why their fantastic products aren’t selling and blame marketing for not communicating how terrific they are. Unfortunately, having the best product or solution is often not enough because consumers typically don’t make purchase decisions rationally. They do so emotionally.
Stay at home orders across the globe has had an immediate impact on consumers. Streaming times are at an all-time high, food delivery services are at max capacity, and almost all of us have become gamers. While it is true that immediate consumer behaviors have changed during stay at home orders, the real question marketers are grappling with as mandates are slowly lifted is if the disruption in purchase routine will affect consumer behavior long-term, and if so, how.
COVID-19 has completely disrupted our sense of normalcy. Collectively, we’ve hung our hopes on our ability to create a “new normal” post-COVID with some semblance of life before the outbreak. But, life during this pandemic is not normal, nor will it be in the months ahead. From industries to schools and everything in between, routines have been fractured, lives altered, and jobs lost. As a market researcher working in an industry that thrives on consumer interaction, I can speak best to what I’ve seen while navigating this space and how I think the market research industry will respond to the looming uncertainties ahead.
In 2017, smart speakers sat on the counter-tops and coffee tables of just over 30% of U.S. consumers. Today, that number has jumped to nearly half according to our 2020 ThinkNow Voice-Controlled Products report brief, which is on par with earlier predictions that 55% of homes will have smart speakers by 2022. The most popular speakers, Amazon Alexa and Google Home, dwarf category competitors like Apple Homepod.
As the reality of being quarantined here on the west coast starts to settle in, we decided to process the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic as any good market researcher would – with research. ThinkNow conducted a nationwide online survey of 500 American adults during the week of March 6-11, 2020. The sample was stratified with respect to race/ethnicity, age, gender, and US region per Census benchmarks.