How COVID-19 Is Changing Consumer Behaviors

March 26, 2020 Author: Mario X. Carrasco

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.

See the full findings of the report here. Below are some of the highlights:

Americans Are Concerned

Americans are understandably concerned. When asked, “In general, how concerned are you, if at all, about the coronavirus? (on a 1-10 scale), nearly 40% of American adults surveyed expressed a high degree (8-10 rating) of concern:

how concerned are you

Of the major race/ethnic groups, Hispanics expressed the most concern about the threat of the coronavirus, at 46%, significantly more than African Americans and Non-Hispanic Whites.

Social Distancing Negatively Affects Multiple Industries

A large share of adults plan to cut back on several activities as COVID-19 spreads domestically, such as going to large public gatherings and visiting theme parks:

Some of America’s favorite past times are being hit the hardest, including sporting events, concerts, movie theaters, restaurants, and gyms. Public transportation, a necessity for some to get back and forth from work, ranks among the top 3 of nixed activities planned over the coming months.

Consumer Behaviors Subject To Change

As in-person activities decline, respondents noted that they would be engaging in more at-home activities, such as cooking, shopping online, and streaming online entertainment.

While many of these activities are routine for some consumers, for others, ordering food online via an app or playing video games are new experiences. We asked respondents who plan on engaging in either of these activities if this was new behavior. Twenty-seven percent said ordering food with an app will be new to them and 14% said that playing more video games will be new to them:

Popular Online Retailers Score Big

As social distancing becomes more urgent, consumers are opting to shop online. Not surprisingly, Amazon, Walmart, and Target are the top three winners during this momentous shift in consumer behavior:

Amazon has responded to this surge by hiring an additional 100,000 warehouse and delivery workers to deal with the demand.

COVID-19 Reshapes Social Norms

COVID-19 is a paradigm-changing event for humanity. While we have focused here on the immediate consumer shifts, the social and economic implications will stretch far beyond the lifetime of the virus itself. As businesses try and navigate the most challenging part of this pandemic, we hope that our data provides insight into how consumer behavior is changing and tools to navigate that change as consumers adjust to their new reality.

Download this study.