The massive change in consumer attitudes as the vaxed pull back

All of that changed in July. Nearly one third of Americans has undergone a massive perceptual shift in the past month, as the delta variant has taken hold.

The author(s)

  • Jason Brown President, chief client officer, Ipsos
Get in touch

As cases and related fears surge, consumers are reverting all the way back to their November mindsets, according to data from Ipsos’ ongoing tracking study. Attitudes started to improve at the end of 2020 as the vaccine started to become a reality and accelerated as vaccines became more available and the fall/winter case surge started to subside.

All of that changed in July. Nearly one third of Americans has undergone a massive perceptual shift in the past month, as the delta variant has taken hold.

Early in the pandemic, Ipsos created a framework for monitoring consumers’ adaptation to current circumstances, the Ipsos Pandemic Adaptation Continuum (IPAC). It’s modeled after several psychological frameworks and breaks into ten segments which can be grouped into a ”coping” upslope and an improving downslope.

a

In the first half of the year, there was a steady improvement as more consumers entered the last three stages, which are emblematic of a return to the physical world and more normal behaviors. Recalibration, rebuilding and settling in grew as people moved out of the segments that they had been languishing in, such as adjustment and enduring.

b

Since July, the number of people in the improving segments has fallen from 67% to 39%.

That includes massive movement in the Adjustment phase, which doubled to a rate not seen since November 2020. And the positive Rebuilding phase has seen a steep drop-off. The changes aren’t impacting everyone equally, however. Republicans, those in the south, younger Americans, Black Americans and parents are retrenching to a greater degree. This is likely due to a complex array of socio-economic factors, including the regionality of the current flare-ups in areas with low vaccination rates, a new patchwork of mask regulations and growing vaccination mandates. Among parents, there is renewed uncertainty about impacts to a third school year, especially as children under 12 still are not eligible for vaccination.

c

Recent polling conducted for Axios shows that our reemergence is stalling. The number of Americans who have gone out to eat has declined by 2 points (to 58%) and the number who visited friends and family has declined by 5 points (to 62%). Fifty-seven percent of Americans report wearing a mask all or some of the time, up 5 points from mid-July.

Likewise in the Ipsos tracker, the vaccinated who drove recovery as they returned to the world are starting to show a significant pull-back. Majorities or near-majorities of the vaccinated report that they will stop or reduce dining out at restaurants, going to crowded places, going to events, going to large cities for vacation and going to their offices. These numbers have grown in just the past couple of weeks.

a

The good news, if such a thing can be said, is that vaccination rates are rising again, including sizeable surges in many of the states with the lowest overall rates. More and more employers are postponing back-to-office plans and also requiring vaccinations for staff and employees. A growing number of businesses are requiring proof of vaccinations or reinstituting masking policies, steps that should help curb the spread and development of further variants. Granted, counter-examples exist as well, notably in Florida, which is moving to ban mask mandates in schools just as unvaccinated children return.

But hopefully, the positive trends can get the U.S. back on the track of improving attitudes and more open behaviors.

The author(s)

  • Jason Brown President, chief client officer, Ipsos

Consumer & Shopper