Consumer Concerns Shift from Covid-19 to Economic Uncertainty

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Local businesses have been forced out of their comfort zone this summer as the economic impact of Covid-19 lingers and uncertainty persists into the final weeks of summer. With so many questions unanswered, businesses are searching for resources to help guide their decisions in marketing and general operations.

A number of martech firms are looking to fill the information void by launching their own Covid-19 resource centers and consumer data projects. The location-powered advertising and analytics firm Blis launched its own consumer sentiment tracker, with data from consumers in the United States, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates, Singapore, and Australia.

“This tracker is for brands and agencies that want to get a quick view on consumer sentiment. It’s a temperature check that can be used in conjunction with other data sources such as retail foot traffic and consumer movement data to give a rounded view of progress through the various stages of crisis, stability, and recovery,” says Blis’ Alex Wright.

As head of insights at Blis, Wright has been immersed in consumer data surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic. He sees his company’s new sentiment tracker as an ongoing resource for businesses as well as a barometer to track against Blis’ own foot traffic data. The interactive tracker plots how consumers are feeling about their local economies, household finances, and spending intent.

With consumers behaving differently now than prior to Covid-19 and many people working from home or avoiding crowded public spaces, brands are struggling to make sense of what is happening and need better information in order to plan campaigns based on the consumer mood.

So far, Blis’ data has shown that the economic outlook is optimistic at the macro level. However, the rise in net sentiment has come as a result of sentiment shifting from negative to neutral. People are still uncertain about what to expect in the coming months, not just because of fluctuations in the virus, but also because of the removal of the enhanced unemployment support packages, which expired at the end of July due to congressional inaction. Despite this uncertainty, Blis has found that people in the U.S. are nearly as likely to spend extra money on purchasing a car as they are saving for a rainy day.

“In the U.S., people in some lesser affected parts of the country seem to be shifting their concern from the Covid-19 health crisis toward the impending economic crisis,” Wright says. “There is more turmoil to come, and we’re not only seeing it in this tracker, but these trends are also being supported by the consumer behaviors we see in our movement data.”

Although Blis is not the only location company providing sentiment data to help brands understand the concerns of their customers right now, the company has differentiated its tracker by focusing on five different global markets. Data show that within specific markets, different regions are at different stages of recovery.

“There’s never been a point in our lifetimes where sentiment has swung so much from one fortnight to the next. The virus is unpredictable, how governments are responding in different countries is vastly different, and the impact felt by everyday consumers can be abrupt,” Wright says. “In times of such uncertainty, people are looking for trusted information.”

Blis plans to update its tracker twice monthly to provide a picture of how consumers are reacting to changes in their situations, both personally and on a national scale.

“The turnaround speed and the cadence of the tracker means that we can get a read on how people react to what’s happening around them relatively soon after it happens,” Wright says. “We collect the data over three or four days every two weeks, and the insights are available in the tracker the next day.”

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.Rainbow over Montclair

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.