Weekly Consumer Insights: Safety, Control & the Rise of Technology - May 4

RBFF is providing weekly consumer insights to help its stakeholders navigate the multitude of challenges we’re all facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, The Harris Poll COVID-19 Tracker has some useful information about safety, control and the rise of technology; with the overall sentiment showing a combination of stress and gratitude: 37% feel overwhelmed trying to balance work at home and other needs of their family, 52% feel grateful to be home with family, while 55% have cabin fever.


Safety added to the customer journey - Safety and hygiene must be considered for all commercial transactions before Americans will feel safe enough to break out of their housebound state and interact with businesses in-person. Industries must work together to ensure the entire customer journey is considered (creating a ‘blockchain effect’ for cleanliness) – i.e. hotels may lose bookings if travelers feel planes are not safe.

  • 73% of Americans worry about future public activities (public transit, socializing, going to bars, restaurants).
  • 66% of parents are concerned their kids will be exposed if sent back to school.
  • One prediction: safety will soon be ‘branded’ at its source of origin like a bottle of water.
  • Testing provides peace of mind. Americans say proper testing must be in place before returning to work (66%), while 80% are concerned about testing kit shortages.

The Freshness of Suburbia – The lure of moving to cities used to be about opportunity; now people are feeling less safe in cities as virus transmission spikes in small groups in small settings. Urbanites may seek a suburban way of life to feel safe and revisit a lifestyle many had in their youth. Teleworking and virtual experiences have helped shift this mindset. Time will tell if this is a blip or a signifier of a stronger trend.

  • Mirroring life in the suburbs: 73% of urbanites are seeking more fresh food and 63% are seeking more home cooked meals as they look out on the remainder of the year. Meanwhile, suburban and rural regions are more likely to already be increasing home-cooked meals.
  • 81% of urbanites are concerned about the risk of exposure when they leave their home to run essential errands; 39% say the crisis has caused them to consider moving to a less densely populated area.
  • Urbanites are twice as likely to be browsing suburban real estate listings vs those living in rural/suburban areas.

Health/Diet = Sense of Control – In a year filled with uncertainty and uncontrollable elements, we are holding onto what we can control – what we eat and how we live at home. No better time than a crisis to change habits.

  • 42% of Americans are consuming more fresh food and plan on increasing or maintaining from in the future. 70% are eating more home-cooked meals and of them, 91% plan to increase that number.
  • 45% of Americans are spending more on groceries than were before COVID-19. A large number are alternating between in-store shopping/pickup (experience and control) and delivery (convenience and safety).

Return to Office Life – One word: sterile. As Americans eye a return to the physical workplace, they will be anticipating a sterile environment with well-thought through protocols and precautions in place.

  • In order for workplaces to re-open, 76% of Americans want hand sanitizer everywhere, and 64% want phycical barriers and workspaces reconfigured for social distancing.
  • Majority support for protecting team members who are exposed at work – 74% want paid sick leave; 67% want payment for COVID-19 testing, 60% want coverage of hospital expenses, 60% want coverage for all out of pocket medical expenses.

Continued Rise of Technology – What can your organization to do be ‘essential’ to society? According to findings, a majority of Americans approve of large tech companies helping to trace coronavirus cases (81%). Surprisingly, 73% are comfortable sharing anonymous location data in the interest of fighting the pandemic. In fact, 38% of Americans say their view of the tech industry has become more positive since the start of the pandemic.


Distrust is still real for many Americans as they venture from their homes.

  • With shifting mindsets and a new heightened sense of health, hygiene and security, businesses should look to continue to promote fishing and boating close-to-home opportunities.
  • The pandemic has forced a heightened focus on healthy eating and living, with many Americans looking to source their foods in fresh and sustainable ways. Fishing can be positioned as the ultimate local, stream to table fresh-and-healthy option.
  • But boat ramps, fishing piers, and rental equipment need to be carefully managed to maintain proper social distancing and cleanliness measures.

In the retail space, shoppers want to see businesses in each phase of their journey practicing safe hygiene and sanitation measures. Stores must be cleaner than ever to draw customers out of their homes and back into your stores.

RBFF receives these weekly consumer insights from its partners at Colle McVoy. This study was fielded online among a nationally representative sample of 2,013 U.S. adults between April 25-26, 2020.

Stay tuned to the RBFF Blog for additional weekly consumer insights related to COVID-19.