System1 Coronavirus Tracker: 15th April

As the Coronavirus pandemic continues, we’re running a 15-country tracker to capture people’s emotional and behavioural response to the crisis around the world.

For the very latest results, sign up for our webinar every Wednesday.

Here are the key findings from last week’s tracker:

1 - A shift from fear to sadness

In several markets, as the rate of new COVID-19 cases and deaths begins to stabilise, we’re seeing a shift in the emotional response to the disease. Fear is being replaced by sadness as people settle into the new normal of social distancing, and as the human and economic cost of the pandemic begins to hit home.

In the UK, when asked about the Coronavirus specifically, the Sadness response has jumped 10 percentage points in a week. We’ve also seen increases in Italy and the US and a rising trend of Sadness in Brazil.

This is an important trend for marketers to be aware of. We’ve seen ads score well which look to handle Fear, by reassuring consumers about the actions brands are taking to ensure continuity. We’re now seeing ads like Oreo’s 5-Star effort, which alleviate Sadness by reminding people there’s still a space for playfulness and joy in their lives.

2 - Key associations with the virus - death, fear, contagion

So why are people sad and afraid? It sounds like an obvious question, but some commentators have been suggesting that the lockdown itself rivals the virus in terms of its damaging effects.

In the UK, at least, this doesn’t reflect how people feel. We explored the key associations with Coronavirus – they are still to do with the death rate, the fear around it, and the frightening speed of its spread. The impact of the virus on health is far more important than its impact on everyday life. In particular, the high level of contagion has really hit home with people, who show an understanding of why the virus is so dangerous.

There is no groundswell of support for ending the lockdown coming through.

3 - People are bleak, but realistic, about economic impact

The economic damage of Covid-19 is very real, however. We’ve been asking every week about both the immediate personal impact on people’s jobs and the predicted future impact on their livelihoods.

What we’ve seen is that the huge impact of COVID-19 on jobs was evident in week 1, but the situation has worsened then, with most markets showing small increases in the number of people personally affected. On the other hand, the predicted impact of the economic shutdown remains broadly the same as it was in week 1 – in most markets, around 80% are very or quite concerned about the impact it will have on them, with Germany and Holland partial exceptions.

This helps explain why the lockdown measures have been so widely accepted. People have been bleak, but realistic, about the impact of COVID-19. They understood quickly what it would mean for them financially but also understood the need for drastic measures.

  • To download the full deck, go here.
  • To hear the webinar, go here.

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