Health and Safety Will Remain Top of Mind Post-Pandemic

A PR and marketing maxim holds that you can never know too much about members of your audience. With so much possibly changing during the pandemic, what PR pros and marketers know about their audiences perhaps is no longer valid. It’s fortunate, then, that polls and survey are proliferating at this moment. Also fortunate, homebound audience members are more likely to respond to polls and surveys.

Periodically, PRNEWS is synopsizing data from surveys and polls that could be germane for how audiences behave and will behave.

For example, a survey about food-related habits shows consumers likely will keep health and safety issues top of mind, regardless of states re-opening. Their main fear isn’t health risks stemming from employees of restaurants, markets or groceries, it’s their fellow customers, the study found. People also will be more cautious about spending, the survey indicates.

Back to Normal

On the other hand, there’s little doubt, according to the survey, Eating 2020: How COVID-19 Will Change Consumer Engagement With Food, that a majority want to get back to normal, and that includes doing less online grocery shopping. In addition, it means eating in restaurants more than taking out food, the survey says.

Of recently acquired online grocery shoppers, more than one-third are unlikely to use online pickup and nearly half are unlikely to use online delivery once the pandemic’s restrictions are lifted. Online grocery shopping will flatten or decline, in-store visits will increase, says the InspirePR Group and Illuminology survey of 1,300 consumers, conducted April 17-20.

The survey says Americans will return to eating in restaurants, though the survey suggests that there could be a 20 percent decline in dining room traffic vs pre-COVID-19 levels. 45 percent said they will dine inside a restaurant soon after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted vs. 67 percent pre-COVID-19 restrictions.

Restaurants that focus on quality experiences, such as upscale and neighborhood restaurants are more likely to return to pre-COVID-19 levels. On the downside, more than 60 percent feel they could not pay or would worry about paying $75 for a family dinner out.

Staying with food trends, you’ve doubtless seen the stories of dairy farmers dumping milk as demand dropped. In most cases, that’s demand from hotels, restaurants, schools and other entities that are largely closed, such as Starbucks.

Milk Price Rises for First Time in 20 Years

On the other hand, during the first week in April, the price of fluid milk posted an increase in retail dollars sales for the first time in two decades. The price held during April and sales for the week ending April 5 rose almost 7 percent vs one year ago, according to Information Resources.  Even nonfat and low-fat milk were up in terms of dollar sales. Both have been declining for some time.

The reason milk demand is up, dairy companies say, stems from consumers. Demand is fueled when homebound families have time to eat breakfast at home (think milk and cereal). In addition, with the rise in home-cooked meals from scratch, including baking, consumer milk demand has risen.

The question of the moment is whether or not you favor re-opening the country. The attitudes of Americans on this question likely will influence how communicators and marketers approach messaging.

Go Slow on Re-opening

A poll released Thursday from Harvard Kennedy School, Northeastern University and Rutgers University found more than 90 percent of Americans (93 percent) do not favor a rapid reopening of the economy. 89 percent of Republicans favor a go-slow approach, while 96 percent of Democrats do. The poll surveyed 23,000 people in all 50 states and DC between April 17 and 26.

The partisan divide begins after that. 18 percent of Republicans favor reopening in the next two weeks, though just 5 percent of Democrats do. The two parties agree much more on reopening in four to six weeks: 20 percent of Republicans and 22 percent of Democrats.

Another finding from the study is that Republicans and Democrats trust scientists more than government to “do the right thing” in handling the coronavirus. 96 percent said they trusted hospitals and doctors “some” or “a lot” to do the right thing. 81 percent said they have “some” or “a lot” of trust in state government, vs the White House (59 percent), Congress (57 percent) and President Trump (51 percent).

This article is part of PRNEWS' daily COVID-19 coverage, click here to see the latest updates.