Weekly Consumer Insights: The American Dream and Value of Partnerships in Shaping Our Future - May 26


In this week’s Harris Poll Tracker, we look at the generational clashes with safety/facemasks and how the American Dream is still alive yet slightly reframed. Also, the value and partnership component needed among various industries to fight the pandemic together. #TogetherStrong



A Nation Divided on Facemasks – You’ve likely heard about the political affiliation divide among those choosing to wear face masks, and insights this week show age is playing a role as well.

  • Americans over 50 say the nation’s youth are acting ‘young and reckless’ during COVID-19. Seventy-five percent of those 50+ say that young people act as if social distancing restrictions don’t apply to them.
  • Yet younger Americans say older people are the most defiant and stubborn by not taking their own vulnerability seriously: More than half of younger Americans age 18-49 (56%) say seniors are stubbornly sticking to their routines even though they are more at risk.

One thing we all can agree on is many Americans want this over with. Half of Americans (51%) have cabin fever and 50% say it’s time to move on.

The American Dream Remains Intact, Reframed – According to Americans, the top three factors of the American Dream include living in freedom (69%), being financially secure (65%) and owning a home (55%); the same question was asked in 2009 with the same top three factors, with very little fluctuation in percentages. However, 82% of Americans say the pandemic has changed the American Dream. COVID-19 has reprioritized core values; 26% say the pandemic has reframed the American Dream around empathy and community.

  • Compared to 2009 survey, the national divide is different today as well. 52% today say democracy is a top factor in defining the American Dream (vs. 33% in 2009)
  • COVID-19 has unsettled education: 50% today say getting a decent education is vital, compared to 22% in 2009. And 34% of parents say the pandemic has made it challenging for kids to get ahead.
  • Yet the needs for many Americans remains basic:
    • Feeding America (largest U.S. hunger relief organization) has seen a 70% increase in those seeking food assistance since the pandemic began, and 40% are first time-visitors.
    • One in five American workers have filed for unemployment since mid-March.

The Future of Made in America – Though many of their rules and protections are outdated, businesses now deemed “essential” are working to get back to work. Organizations, workers, and policies are sometimes in conflict between healing a struggling economy and protecting employees.

  • Eighty six percent of Americans say proper health precautions are an important part of building confidence in reopening workplaces.
  • Transparency is key in Americans’ support of protections of essential businesses, with 56% more likely to support essential businesses if they demonstrate how they are taking accountability for employee safety.
  • There is strong bipartisan support for manufacturing and technology to return to America from China.

Tech Crunch, Data Privacy and Artificial Intelligence (AI) – Cooperation among industries is essential to fight this pandemic now and into the future, and not just healthcare and technology, but private and public sectors – finance, manufacturing, and government policy; expect new partnerships to emerge to fight COVID-19 as we adapt and navigate unchartered waters.

  • Americans across the board (83%) support the use of AI with healthcare to improve vaccine research & development and 47% support AI chatbots that replace human call centers to address medical concerns and COVID-19 symptom assessment.
  • Additionally, as a public health service in the age of fake news, doctors are tweeting about COVID-19 to make facts go viral.
  • And given social distancing until 2022 may be necessary, according to Harvard coronavirus researchers, this may explain why Americans are throwing data privacy caution to the wind to ensure safe distance: 71% support remote AI patient monitoring to allow healthcare professionals to maintain social distance.


Americans are living through unprecedented times; 87% say the pandemic will be remembered as a major event in American history alongside wars, terror attacks, and major economic collapses – even more among seniors (93%), of whom many survived the Great Depression and WWII as children. Position your organization as a trusted resource that not only keeps the customer’s wellbeing in mind, but also your own employees’. With growing sentiment for protecting our own American businesses and workforce, this may be the time to consider investing more heavily in domestic manufacturing. Perhaps most of all, our ability to come together through empathy and community, along with innovative partnerships throughout the public and private sector could be the way to move forward from this. Unprecedented times call for unprecedented coordination: on April 30, RBFF and NMMA announced the creation of an industry wide summer campaign to unite and restore the power recreational boating and fishing at a time when the wellbeing of Americans is front and center.

RBFF receives these weekly consumer insights from its partners at Colle McVoy. This study was fielded online among a nationally representative sample of 2,030 U.S. adults between May 15-17, 2020.

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