COVID-19: United States Consumer Comfort Levels

Goals

To have a broad understanding of consumer comfort-levels in the United States as it relates to COVID-19. An ideal response would include information, data, and/or statistics surrounding consumer comfort levels about eating in restaurants as COVID-19 continues. Things to consider would be whether they have gotten more comfortable since it started, the percentage that are comfortable going to a restaurant currently. Additionally, and separately, to also have information, data, and/or statistics surrounding consumer sentiment about commercials and other marketing that show scenarios that may not reflect the COVID reality that we are facing. (For example, commercials that feature no masks, people less than 6 feet apart, and hugging). Things to consider would be whether consumers feel that it is acceptable to show these types of situations and scenarios, whether consumers are getting tired of seeing COVID situations in marketing, or whether the reality of it preferred. While the focus will be on the United States, it is acceptable to provide global data if US specific is not publicly available.

Early Findings

  • Thirty-four percent of U.S. adults, including forty-eight percent of Republicans and twenty-one percent of Democrats, said they are comfortable dining out right now, according to research from Morning Consult completed on August 18th, 2020.
  • This Google document contains a visual of the analysis of trend data from April to August surrounding Americans feeling comfortable going out to eat. It is the first graph shown on the upper left.
  • When it comes to generational cohorts, Millennials are more likely to be comfortable with nearly every activity polled than Generation X and Baby Boomers as of the beginning of August. By mid-August, the generational gap had begun to narrow on some activities, as Millennials reported slight dips (35%) in comfort going to restaurants, museums, gyms and on vacations.
  • In asking consumers to predict when they will feel safe returning to leisure activities, Morning Consult measured a similar increase in consumer comfort with doing most activities through mid-June, followed by a plateau or drop. Please see this google document for the visual.
  • According to a national survey with partner YouGov, of 1198 U.S. consumer respondents, fifty-two percent of Americans would feel “very uncomfortable” (28%) or “somewhat uncomfortable” (24%) dining in a restaurant/bar over the next 3 months. This survey was published on July 2nd, 2020.
  • According to a study conducted in May by Zagat, of ~ 7,000 diners surveyed, ninety-three percent of them were planning to wait more than 3 weeks before considering a restaurant visits, twenty percent reported that they would wait more than 3 months, and 3 in 4 diners cite health and safety concerns as the biggest deterrent to dining out, far outweighing financial reasons, therefore, health and safety procedures are paramount to a restaurants' reopening success.
  • Even in states where in-person dining is possible, many consumers remain reluctant to return to restaurants. Forty-seven percent of those consumers surveyed by Datassential in mid-June reported they’re still avoiding eating out. But the number of people who are eating at restaurants is slowly creeping upward. When asked what they were most looking forward to doing once social distancing restrictions were lifted, thirty-three percent of consumers surveyed for Datassential’s ONE TABLE initiative pointed to dining at their favorite sit-down restaurant, second only to visiting family members they haven’t been able to see while sheltering at home (36%).
  • When asked which measures operators could take to make consumers feel safe dining in a sit-down restaurant again, the highest percentage of consumers surveyed for the ONE TABLE initiative cited the following: Spaced-out tables: 40%. Employees wearing masks: 39%. All common areas are visibly wiped down regularly: 39%. Restrooms are extremely clean: 39%. Employees are wearing gloves: 38%. Sanitizing products provided to customers: 38%. Smaller capacity: 36%.

Summary Of Our Early Findings Relevant To The Goals

  • Our initial hour of research was spent scanning to ensure that there was publicly available data surrounding the ask that could be accessed to answer it in full. We discovered two things. The first part of the ask surrounding eating out in restaurants has lots of data available, and finding United States specific stats is not an issue.
  • For the second part of the ask, (which is consumer sentiment surrounding commercials and other marketing that show scenarios that may not reflect the COVID reality that we are facing. For example, commercials that feature no masks, people less than 6 feet apart, and hugging. Things to consider would be whether consumers feel that it is acceptable to show these types of situations and scenarios, whether consumers are getting tired of seeing COVID situations in marketing, or whether the reality of it preferred), IT IS CLEAR that this kind of specificity is not available, but there is plenty surrounding how consumers would like brands to communicate during this pandemic. Our scopings will reflect this reality.
  • Our initial hour of research returned some rich data surrounding consumer sentiment towards eating in restaurants as COVID-19 continues.
  • Please select one or more of the options provided in the proposed scoping section below.

Proposed next steps:

You need to be the project owner to select a next step.