The Impact of COVID-19 on Working Class Americans

Real-Time Insights

As a leading performance marketing company, we are leveraging our real-time survey capabilities to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on everyday life in the US. Interacting with nearly one million Americans daily across our portfolio of owned and operated media properties, we are collecting timely and reliable insights at a massive scale to help businesses and municipalities best respond to the needs of consumers during this pandemic.

Sentiment

General nervousness about the novel coronavirus outbreak

Employment

Changes in job status and work situation due to COVID-19

Behavior

Adjustments to buying behavior and other aspects of daily life

6,348,636

Americans Surveyed

Last Updated May 27, 2020

The New Reality

Since states began issuing stay-at-home orders in mid-March, Americans have turned to their devices as a source of entertainment, subscribing to new streaming video services and spending more time watching their favorite content. Entering the steaming wars as the short form video platform for people on go, Quibi has faced slow subscriber growth since its launch in April. However, with HBO Max making its big debut on May 27, it will be interesting to see how new and old streaming services alike fare as states lift restrictions and consumers reclaim some of their recreational freedom. 

To get a better understanding of shifts in streaming behavior across generations, we asked our audience whether they’ve subscribed to a new service since the start of quarantine and if they’re spending more time watching video content while confined to their homes. With user acquisition and retention a key priority for streaming service providers during this time, we also explore password sharing among friends and family and the likelihood of consumers paying for a streaming service after the free trial period ends. 

New Streaming Subscribers

Have you subscribed to any new streaming services since the start of quarantine?

17% of Americans have subscribed to one or more new streaming services since stay-at-home orders took effect in mid-March.

36% of Gen Zers have subscribed to one or more new streaming services since the start of quarantine, compared to just 9% of baby boomers. Both Gen Z and millennials are more likely to have subscribed to multiple new streaming services, rather than just one.

Do you plan to pay for your new streaming subscription after the free trial period ends?

58% of those who have signed up for a new streaming service plan to pay for their subscription after the free trial period ends.

Gen Xers are most likely to pay for a new streaming subscription once the free trial period expires. Gen Zers are most likely to cancel their new streaming service post-trial.

What would be most likely to cause you to cancel a streaming subscription?

The top 3 reasons for canceling an existing streaming service subscription include price (40%), switching to a better service (22%), and issues the with number of ads (19%).

When deciding whether or not to cancel a subscription service, removal of content matters most to Gen Z. Less brand-loyal when it comes to streaming services, baby boomers are more likely to cancel an existing streaming subscription when they find a better one.

Password Sharing

Do you pay for your own streaming service subscription or use someone else’s login?

42% of Americans use someone else's login to sign in to their favorite streaming service, while 20% rely solely on their friend or loved one's password for access to streaming content.

Gen Zers are most likely to depend on someone else's password to access streaming content. As Americans get older and accumulate more disposable income, they are also more likely to pay for their own streaming services.

With whom would you be most likely to share your streaming password?

68% of Americans who pay for their own streaming service subscription would be most likely to share their password with a family member or significant other.

Compared to other age groups, Gen Zers are the most likely to share their password with friends (31%), while millennials are the most likely to share with a significant other (28%).

Time Spent Streaming

Are you streaming content more or less than normal during quarantine?

34% of Americans are streaming more content than normal during quarantine.

Gen Z and millennials have increased their streaming activities more than their older counterparts. More than half of baby boomers are streaming the same amount of content while in quarantine. Gen Z is the only group in which those streaming less content (32%) surpass those streaming the same amount (28%).

How many hours per day do you spend streaming video content?

40% of Americans are spending 3 or more hours streaming video content per day.

Gen Z and millennials spend the most time streaming video content per day. 55% of Gen Zers spend over 3 hours daily streaming video content, compared to 48% of millennials. As Americans get older, they are most likely to spend less than 2 hours streaming daily.

See how the story is evolving and perceptions are changing

Work-from-Home Preferences

May 19, 2020

How is your company addressing plans to return to the office?

73% of those working from home have no idea how their company is addressing the return to the office, while 11% report that their employer has a clear plan for reopening.

Circle graph breaking out how respondents companies are addressing plans to return to the office

If given the option, do you plan to continue to work from home once restrictions are lifted?

If given the option, 59% of Americans currently working from home would continue to do so once restrictions are lifted and offices reopen.

59% of Americans would continue to work from home if given the option
41% of Americans would not continue to work from home if given the option

Men are more likely to continue working from home once restrictions are lifted.

Gen X and baby boomers are most likely to continue working remotely after their offices reopen. Compared to all other generations, Gen Z is most likely to return to the office even if given the option to continue working from home.

A bar graph showing if given the option, how many respondents plan to work from home by generation

What is the most beneficial aspect of working from home?

A bar graph for the beneficial aspect of working from home

Overall, Americans cite extra time with family (34%) and skipping the commute (29%) as the most beneficial aspects of working from home.

36

of women believe the most beneficial aspect of working from home is spending extra time with family. While men also value the extra family time (30%), those working from home report skipping the commute as the greatest benefit.

Bubble graph showing benefits of working from home females vs. males

Generational Trends

Compared to other generations, Gen Z is the most thankful for extra time with family, citing this as the greatest benefit of working from home. Appreciation for time spent with family decreases among older Americans, with a nearly 50% drop from Gen Z to baby boomers.

Baby boomers and Gen Xers are most appreciative of the flexibility that comes along with working from home. Only 10% of Gen Zers and 12% of millennials cite more flexibility as the greatest benefit – perhaps because this age group is already more accustomed to flexible work hours. Added productivity and less office politics rank lowest among benefits across all generations.

A bar graph breaking down the most beneficial aspect of working from home by generation

What is the most detrimental aspect of working from home?

According to those surveyed, the most detrimental aspects of working from home include more distractions (29%), less social interaction (25%), and difficulty managing work-life balance (18%).

A circle chart breaking down the most detrimental aspect of working from home

Generational Trends

While Gen Z and millennials cite more distractions as the most detrimental aspect of working from home, Gen X and baby boomers are more likely to miss social interaction in the workplace. Less productivity and difficulty communicating with team members rank lowest among concerns across all generations.  

A bar graph comparing the worst part of working from home by generation

Shopping Habits

May 12, 2020

How do you expect your shopping habits to change in the next 30 days as retail stores begin to open?

Two circle graphs comparing how Americans expect their shopping habits to change in the next 30 days

27

of Americans have increased their online shopping since the onset of the outbreak, while 47% are making the same amount of online purchases.

75

of Americans expect to continue to shop the same or more online as retail stores begin to open.

What are you spending the most on when shopping online?

When asked what they're spending the most on when shopping online, 36% indicated food as the top category, followed by fashion and accessories (19%), and consumer technology (10%).

A circle graph breaking down what Americans are spending on when shopping online
20% of Americans are shopping more online and 16% are shopping less online

Compared to those doing less online shopping, Americans making more online purchases are spending more on fashion and accessories.

May 5, 2020

How have your online shopping behaviors changed since the start of the coronavirus outbreak?

29% of Americans have increased their online shopping since the onset of the outbreak, while 52% are making the same amount of online purchases.

A bar graph showing how Americans online shopping behaviors have changed since the start of the coronavirus outbreak

What are you spending the most on?

75% of Americans are spending the most on food, followed by cleaning supplies (7%) and paper goods (5%). Americans are spending the least on fitness products, perhaps using what they already have on hand for their home workout routines.

A circle graph breaking out what Americans are spending the most on during covid

Compliance with Restrictions

May 5, 2020

Are you currently following your state’s stay at home order?

74

of Americans are complying with their state’s stay-at-home orders

A circle graph breaking down how many respondents are currently following their state's stay at home order

Compared to the rest of the U.S. population, millennials are least likely to practice social distancing

A bar graph breaking down how likely different generations are to practice social distancing

April 27, 2020

Are you currently following your state’s stay-at-home orders?

74% of Americans are complying with stay-at-home orders. Those complying with stay-at-home orders are far more likely to be nervous than essential workers or those who do not comply. On the frontlines of response efforts, 71% of essential workers remain calm and collected or neutral through the outbreak.

A bar graph that shows how many Americans are currently following their state's stay-at-home orders

A Look Ahead

May 12, 2020

When do you think life will go back to normal in the United States?

40

of Americans think it will take over 60 days for life to return to normal in the U.S., while 29% are ruling out the possibility of normal altogether. This outlook is far less optimistic than Americans' predictions a month earlier.

A bar graph comparing answers from April 11 to May 11 on when Americans think life will go back to normal

As states start lifting restrictions, which places would you feel comfortable going to in the next 30 days?

Bar graph breaking down what places Americans feel comfortable going when restrictions are lifted

Americans report they would feel the most comfortable going to grocery stores (32%) within the next 30 days - likely due to the fact that as essential businesses, grocery stores nationwide have been operating with safety measures in place throughout the outbreak. Overall, Americans feel the least comfortable dropping off their children at daycare (6%), with about 1 in 3 Americans feeling uncomfortable going to any establishments at all.

10% of Americans feel comfortable going to bars
25% of Americans feel comfortable going to restaurants
23% of Americans feel comfortable going to hair and nail salons

Beyond grocery stores, 25% of Americans would feel comfortable going to a restaurant, 23% would visit a hair or nail salon, and only 10% would return to the bars.

A bar graph showing what businesses different generations will head once open

The youngest generations (Gen Z & millennials) will head to bars and gyms when restrictions lift, while baby boomers and adults over 75 are more likely to go to restaurants and salons

May 5, 2020

How comfortable are you with states lifting stay-at-home restrictions and re-opening for business?

As federal social distancing guidelines expire, only 34% of Americans are comfortable with governors lifting stay-at-home restrictions at the state level.

A circle graph shoing how comfortable Americans are with states lifting stay-at-home restrictions

In light of stay-at-home orders, how do you plan to celebrate Mother’s Day this year?

32% Americans plan to celebrate Mother’s Day in person with friends and family, while 27% plan to send a gift to their loved ones.

A circle graph breaking down how Americans plan to celebrate Mothers day with stay-at-home orders in place

April 27, 2020

How comfortable are you with states lifting stay-at-home restrictions and re-opening for business?

32

are comfortable with states lifting stay-at-home restrictions

35

approve of protests against stay-at-home orders

A bar graph exploring how comfortable Americans are with their states lifting stay-at-home restrictions and re-opening for business

Overall, only 32% of Americans are comfortable with states lifting stay-at-home restrictions. Americans in states where restrictions are being lifted are equally as uncomfortable as the rest of the nation.

April 13, 2020

When do Americans think life will go back to normal in the US?

Most Americans don’t believe life in the US is going back to normal any time soon. Compared to baby boomers, Gen Z is far more optimistic when it comes to expectations around the return of normalcy.

A bar graph breaking down when Americans think life will return to normal in the US

Millennials are most likely to question whether life will ever go back to normal at all.

A bar chart breaking down when Americans believe life will go back to normal in the US by generation

Compared to the rest of the U.S. population, millennials are least likely to practice social distancing

A bar graph breaking down how likely different generations are to practice social distancing

General Sentiment

May 5, 2020

How nervous are you about the coronavirus outbreak?

A line chart tracking how nervous Americans are about the coronavirus outbreak from March 10 - May 3

As states begin to lift stay-at-home restrictions, more Americans are beginning to feel calm and collected or neutral about the coronavirus outbreak. Nervousness across generations is also stabilizing, though the most vulnerable populations remain the most nervous .

39%

of consumers are nervous about the outbreak

36

of consumers remain calm and collected

A line graph showing how nervous different generations are about lifting stay-at-home restrictions

While nervousness across generations is on the decline, the most vulnerable populations remain the most nervous. With Gen Z set to graduate into a possible recession, nervousness around the COVID-19 outbreak peaks among the youngest and oldest Americans.

A map of the US states showing the nervousness of each state as of March 10th
A map of the US states showing the nervousness of each state as of March 20th
A map of the US states showing the nervousness of each state as of May 4th

What are Americans most nervous about?

Working class adults most anxious about COVID-19 are more concerned about the health of their families and fellow Americans than they are with their own financial situation and the US economy.

A bar graph breaking down what Americans are most nervous about during Covid-19

Employment & Income

May 5, 2020

How has your employment status changed since the start of the outbreak?

44

of consumers have experienced income disruption

Over the last 6 weeks, we have seen a 33% increase in jobs lost among Americans. Of those who have been financially impacted by the outbreak, 11% have obtained a new job, 32% are relying on the government stimulus to make ends meet, and 44% are struggling to manage their finances at all.

A circle graph of how respondents employment status has changed since the start of the outbreak

April 13, 2020

What do you plan to spend your stimulus check on?​

78

of Americans plan to spend their stimulus check on bills & necessities

Presidential Response

May 19, 2020

How do you feel about the way President Trump is handling the coronavirus outbreak?

31

of Americans approve of the way Trump is handling the U.S. response to the COVID-19 outbreak. This approval rating is consistent week over week.

A bar graph comparing how Americans feel President Trump is handling the coronavirus outbreak from May 10 to May 17

May 12, 2020

How do you feel about the way President Trump is handling the coronavirus outbreak?

31

of Americans approve of the way Trump is handling the U.S. response to the COVID-19 outbreak. This represents an 11% increase in approval rating within the last week.

A bar graph comparing how Americans feel President Trump is handling the coronavirus outbreak from May 4 to May 11

May 5, 2020

How do you feel about the way President Trump is handling the coronavirus outbreak?

28

of Americans approve of the way President Trump is handling the U.S. response to the coronavirus outbreak. This represents a 26% decrease in approval over the last 3 weeks.

A bar graph comparing how Americans feel President Trump is handling the coronavirus outbreak from April 12 to May 4

FAQs

How is this data collected?

‘Fluent Pulse’ reflects a daily online survey collected across Fluent’s portfolio of owned & operated websites.

Who is the audience?

Fluent attracts a massive audience across its network of owned media properties. While all segments of the US population are represented, the below are our most prevalent demographic skews:

Demographic Attribute Over Penetrated Among
Age Median: 38

61% between the age of 18 & 44

Gender 50/50 Male/Female
Education High School Degree or Some College
Homeownership 61% Renters
Households with Children 42% of Audience

How many people were surveyed?

On average, 150,000 – 175,000 consumers respond daily.

Is the data weighted?

No, but representative of the overall Fluent Audience.

How do you protect consumers data privacy?

All responses related to this survey are anonymized; only survey responses will be disclosed. At no point will consumer’s personal information will ever be disclosed.

What was your methodology?

Data was collected from US adults between March 10 & April 26, 2020 via Fluent’s portfolio of owned and operated media properties. Results are specific to the Fluent audience, and not reflective of the general US population.

The data presented on this site does not reflect the official opinion, policy or position of Fluent, Inc. This research is only meant to inform and illustrate, as an example, the rich data assets Fluent can derive insights from to drive in-market strategies.