System1 Coronavirus Tracker: 25th March

As the Coronavirus crisis continues, we’ll be running a weekly 12-country tracker to capture people’s response to the pandemic around the world.

The tracker will cover a range of metrics and topics:

National Mood

How are people feeling in general? The coronavirus has had a massive impact on people daily lives – how big is its impact on emotional lives? Changes in consumer mood will help marketers understand how deep and long the impact of the crisis might be.

Coronavirus Feeling

Are people scared or sad when they think about Covid-19? Or maybe angry and disgusted at the response to it?

Topical Issues

How are people changing their routine? What do they feel about Government action? What kind of media do they want in lockdown?

Marketing Standouts

The ads and initiatives we believe are getting it right, using data from our Test Your Ad service.

Deep Dives

We’ll occasionally be providing a deeper point of view on one aspect of the crisis – like Orlando Wood’s analysis of why Coronavirus may lead to a “right-brained reset”.

Here are 5 key takeaways from the first week’s data

1 - Sadness and fear on the rise worldwide

Our snapshot of the worldwide mood shows a rise in Sadness and Fear across all markets. The severity of the outbreak doesn’t always correlate with the mood – we see particularly high levels of both emotions in Brazil and Saudi Arabia, for instance, where Covid-19 cases are rising but not yet at levels seen elsewhere.

2 - The UK's mood is steady, but that might rapidly change

There’s not too much difference in UK mood between now and the beginning of 2020 – a higher level of sadness than usual has begun to creep in, but most people’s mood is still neutral. How will the first full week of lockdown change things? If we look at Italy, we saw a rapid increase in Fear and Sadness post-lockdown as the reality of the situation sinks in. Expect similar in the UK.

3 - Millions are already personally affected

The Coronavirus crisis is really two crises – a public health crisis and an economic shock. 24% of UK respondents, and 31% in the US, say their job has been hit by the outbreak. That’s not as surprising as the fact that similar numbers say they either know someone who’s had the virus, or believe they’ve had it themselves. With testing in both countries limited, this may be a sign of much wider spread for the virus.

4 - US divided on the Coronavirus response

With 49% of Americans strongly agreeing that the public are panicking too much about the outbreak, and President Trump pushing to lift restrictions early, it’s perhaps not surprising that the Government response to Covid-19 divides US opinion. A third of respondents say the Government is doing too much to deal with the outbreak, vs only 28% saying it’s doing too little. However, there’s general agreement the economic shock is going to be very bad – 85% say a contraction is on the way, with 37% predicting a catastrophic decline of 15% or more in growth.

5 - People say they've changed their behaviour

Self-reported behaviour change is an unreliable metric, but in a fast-moving pandemic it’s the best we have available. The responses are heartening – a large majority of respondents say they’re using hand sanitiser more and have stopped shaking hands. Not all behaviour change is voluntary, though – we also see large majorities saying they’re listening more to the news and watching more TV. These changes in media patterns will only increase are more people move to a lockdown regime.

6 - People want escapism, not reality

What do people want to watch on TV? In both the US and the UK, films, drama and comedy top the list, with news and even sports lagging behind. Combined with the rise in TV watching, we believe this is a powerful cue for marketers as the crisis continues – help entertain audiences as they weary of the restrictive “new normal”.

Next week we’ll bring you fresh data on how these attitudes and emotions are shifting. We’ll also dig more into the specific impact on advertising.

For more on the Coronavirus crisis:

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