Significantly more consumers say they’re “ready to go” and start to resume normal activity, according to a new study from Nielsen that tracks U.S. consumer sentiment on COVID-19 recovery and purchase intentions.
The study found big gains in those who say their towns are emerging from the crisis, jumping to 71% in the latest survey from 42% in a similar earlier study conducted from April 30-May 2. In addition three-fourths (76%) say stores are beginning to reopen, nearly double that from one month earlier. Half of the respondents to the flash survey say it’s safer than it was a month ago, up from 38%, while 48% indicated they’ll resume most normal activities in the next month.
In terms of where people’s heads are at as the recovery begins, Nielsen identified three distinct groups. In a major change from just one month ago, the “ready to go” crowd that feels things are safer than a month ago and intends to resume most normal activities in the next month, surged by 20 points to 54%. The two other psychographic segments both shrunk in size. The “wait and see” group that isn’t ready to resume most normal activities and doesn’t believe their community is safer than it was a month ago, fell by nearly two thirds to 11% from 29% in early May. And the “proceed with caution” contingent that’s carefully preparing to resume some (but not all) normal activities next month stayed about the same, clocking in at 35%.
“While only a month separates the two studies, the shift in American attitudes on reopening of the economy and a return to normalcy is remarkable,” said Pierre Bouvard, Chief Insights Officer at Cumulus Media/Westwood One in a post on the “Everyone’s’ Listening” blog.
Compared to the total sample, the “ready to go” group was far more likely to agree that things are safer than a month ago (79% compared to 50% for the total sample) and planning to resume normal activities in the next month (95% vs 72%).
“There are massive gains in the number of Americans who say stores are reopening, normal activities are beginning to resume, and their area is starting to emerge out of the crisis,” Bouvard says. “The average agreement with the recovery statements is up 18 points, a +44% increase.”
As businesses swing open their doors again, these “ready to go” Americans have a profile that’s attractive to advertisers. They’re more likely to be 25-54 year-olds and have kids aged 2-11 in their household. They also over-index for making $100,000 or more a year, having spent time in a car in the last day and working outside the house. Significantly, they’re more likely to be heavy radio listeners and are ready to spend.
This group of radio-friendly consumers is ready to open their wallet across a range of consumer categories, the new survey found, including shopping, professional services, household services, auto parts/repair, food and dining, and home improvement.
“The greater the consumer optimism about the economic recovery and return to normalcy, the greater the time spent with AM/FM radio,” Bouvard notes. The “ready to go” consumers are +33% more likely to be heavy AM/FM radio listeners compared the most pessimistic “wait and see” consumer segment. “No wonder that Nielsen declares AM/FM radio to be ‘the soundtrack of American recovery and reemergence,’” says Bouvard.
The latest in a series of flash surveys to gauge consumer sentiment amidst the pandemic, the new research shows also shows heavy radio listeners are key to driving commerce and supporting the economy.
Asked what activities you intend to do once COVID-19 eases in your area, heavy radio listeners over-indexed in every category except ordering takeout. They’re 60% more likely to go to a movie theater, 53% more prone to belly up to a bar, 44% more likely to plan or book a vacation, and 43% more prone to make major purchases like appliances and electronics. Ready to go-ers are 38% more likely to go to a car or truck dealership, 33% more likely to hit the gym, and 18% more prone to dine out in a quick-serve or sit-down restaurant.
In addition, heavy radio listeners are significantly more likely to spend on a variety of categories after the crisis eases, including home improvement, automotive, food and dining, professional services, and travel. What’s more, heavy radio listeners are 29% more likely to make a postponed major purchase within a month after restrictions are eased. For example, this group is 38% more prone to purchase/lease a new/used vehicle and 50% more likely to buy a new house.
Meanwhile, the amount of consumers working outside the home continues to grow (from 16% to 22% in one month) as does the portion that says they spent one hour or more in their car or truck yesterday (from 14% in early May to 22% in late May). And the latest data shows heavy radio listeners are spending more time on the road with 41% indicating they spent an hour or more in their vehicle yesterday compared to 28% in early May.
The new study was based on 1,025 nationally representative interviews with persons 18+, conducted May 27-29, and compared to the same study fielded with 1,000 people on April 30-May 2.