coronavirus anticipation index

The Coronavirus Anticipation Index – July, 2020

By indexing the changes in anticipation for 21 key activities over time, American consumers are showing us when they think it will be ok to go back into the water.

The Coronavirus Anticipation Index is designed to create a forward-looking series of snapshots to understand how American consumers are anticipating the next phases of life.

Soon after the pandemic began to make domestic headlines and quarantining became a new way of life, we convened a series of calls with partners to try and determine how we could best be of value to our readers during these strange new times.  What emerged from those conversations was a series of surveys – individual snapshots – of the lifestyle changes that Covid-19 was forcing upon Americans.  We wanted to know how American lives were changing and how they would continue to adjust over time.

The results of those surveys were published here and ended up engendering some healthy conversations with a diverse set of people who operate beyond what I would call the “traditional” scope of what TheCustomer does.  That’s exactly what we were hoping for.

Indexing Changes in When

Every single one of us – brands, retailers, service & technology providers, and consumers are eagerly anticipating a return to “normal” life.  The problem is, normal looks different to everyone and what is one person’s normal could well be another’s lockdown.  By indexing the changes in anticipation for each of these 21 activities over time, American consumers are effectively telling us when think it will be ok to go back into the water, so to speak.  And while its not a crystal ball, by mapping the changes week over week, and month over month, we can provide some high-level guidance.

As with our previous series, the study is designed by Robert Passikoff of Brand Keys, and executed by Suzy, the real-time surveying platform.

With states “opening up” at different times and in different ways, and with some states closing, opening, then closing again, and with some states just hoping the coronavirus will go away, over two-thirds  of Americans (68%) presume returning to pre-COVID-19 activities are three months to more than a year away, according to the Coronavirus Anticipation Index.

The Baseline Numbers

anticipation index

“Average time estimates for returning to activities in a month (14%) were very close to those who expect to have to wait of a vaccine (18%),” noted Robert Passikoff, founder and president of Brand Keys, Inc., the New York-based brand loyalty and customer engagement consultancy. “Expectations, of course, change depending upon the activity, but generally speaking, the distribution of consumers who believe normalcy will return in two to eleven months is pretty even, no matter the timeframe. The only exception was the time period ‘more than a year.’” Average consumer estimates tended to be optimistically lower at nine percent for waiting a year to resume most normal activities.

Normalcy Now? Not So Much!

“All consumers are anxious to return to their pre-COVID-19 lifestyles,” noted Mike Giambattista, publisher of TheCustomer. “And some have already begun to do so, but at significantly lower numbers than consumers who feel it’s going to be necessary to wait a little – and in some cases a lot – longer.”

Top activities consumers indicated they are already doing were:
  • Visiting relatives (9%)
  • Getting a haircut (8%)
  • Having people over (6%)
  • Going to a Department Store (6%)
Top activities consumers expected to be OK to return to in the next month included:
  • Going to the mall (26%)
  • Getting a haircut (22%)
  • Visiting relatives (22%)
  • Going to a Department Store (20%)
  • Eating outside at a restaurant (20%)
Activities consumers are putting off until there’s a vaccine included:
  • No longer wearing a mask (26%)
  • Traveling in an airplane (21%)
  • Using a subway (21%)
  • Using a municipal bus (20%)
  • Going to a bar (20%)

“The differences and similarities in wait-time between what people are currently doing, albeit in smaller numbers, and what they feel they’ll have to wait for anyplace up to a year, is interesting,” noted Giambattista. “It provides a real insights into the things people miss most and yearn for most.”

Should Schools Open In The Fall?

“While President Donald Trump’s demand for U.S. schools to fully reopen this fall amid the coronavirus pandemic may seem to some like a re-election strategy, at the end of the day, parents just want families to be safe,” said Passikoff. And whether the question is can we or should we reopen schools, the survey found that eighteen percent of the sample felt attending school in person should wait until there’s a vaccine. Twenty-three percent (23%), on the other hand, felt it attending classes in person would be OK in the next one to three months. Others felt three to six months (19%) and six months to a year (20%) is what would be necessary.


The Coronavirus Anticipation Index and analysis were conducted the week of July 13, 2020. This week’s Wave Seven findings are based on 3,018 total responses from a U.S. panel population, ages 17-70 with a 50/50 gender split.

About Brand Keys

Brand Keys specializes in customer loyalty and engagement research, providing brand equity metrics that accurately predict future, in-market consumer behavior that correlates with sales and profitability.

About Suzy

Suzy helps you make better, faster, more data-driven decisions. Their platform combines advanced research tools with the highest quality audience to deliver trusted insights in minutes.

About TheCustomer

Launched in mid-2019, TheCustomer covers all of the disciplines within the customer engagement ecosystem, exploring the latest research, technologies and personalities driving the customer revolution.

Photo by Adam Nieścioruk on Unsplash

1 comment
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Previous Article
customer data & trust

Building Customer Data Protocols to Emphasize Trust

Next Article
brand engagements

When & Why Customers Share Brand Engagements

Related Posts

Subscribe to TheCustomer Report

Customer Enlightenment Delivered Daily.

    Get the latest insights, tips, and technologies to help you build and protect your customer estate.