Consumer Sentiment Pulse #1: Sentiment You Can Use

May 12, 2020 Laurel Gerdine

Over the last six weeks, we’ve been working hard to plan restarts and help our clients reimagine energy efficiency programs in this new normal. Over the course of my entire marketing and service operations career, I have never witnessed a time when consumer sentiment and voice of customer have been more important.

Throughout the process, we have relied heavily on data and customer behavior to help inform decisions regarding our teams and clients. This data discovery includes several important resources that allow us to keep a finger on the pulse of evolving customer sentiment, both in general and specifically within our industry.

I’m excited to share two things with you today. First, I’ll pass along the best secondary resources you can consult on a week-by-week basis to gauge general consumer mindset. Second, I’ll share the results of our primary research from our COVID-19 consumer pulse report, which more directly inform how we will approach going to market in this new environment.

First, some solid secondary sources.

Back in March, I put on my management consulting hat and dove right in to find several reliable, up-to-date secondary sources for consumer sentiment. After digging into these sources, I recommend conducting a quick review every 1-2 weeks to stay on top of changes. The first two sources in this list are more strategy-based, while the last one is media-focused and optimal for shaping messaging and general communications.

  1. McKinsey’s COVID consumer sentiment is global, allowing us to learn from other countries. They update this every week or two and it provides a good view over time.
  2. BCG’s COVID research is focused solely on United States purchase patterns, with deeper insights into buying intent across categories and industries
  3. Brandwatch’s work looks at media consumptions and patterns as well as direct survey data. This allows for deeper insight into the topics on the minds of customers right now. You have to sign up for this one, but it’s free. Their reporting provides insight into trending topics across several industries including retail, pharma and technology.

That’s great, but we wanted to learn more, specific to the work that we do in our industry.

As we started to look at helping our clients and our teams plan for restarts, we needed more actionable insights, applicable to the specifics of what our teams were asking.

These were questions, ranging from operational to marketing to strategic, like:

  • What PPE do consumers want to see?
  • How do consumers feel about virtual services right now?
  • Are there groups of consumers that are more likely to welcome the return of in-home services?
  • Over time, how will consumers’ answers to these questions change?
  • Overall, how receptive will customers be to our services?

So, our very own behavioral scientist Luke Bahl and I got together and crafted a consumer sentiment survey to help close some of these gaps.

We decided we wanted to conduct it over time, so we could measure change. We wanted to look at responses by key demographics, with an emphasis on geography and population density.

We fielded a quantitative survey, using Amazon Turk to recruit (not familiar with Amazon Turk? It’s a platform used for surveys. I totally geeked out and researched studies that explain how the information gathered is just as high-quality as studies that cost more and take longer. It’s pretty cool.) All in all, we recruited 810 participants that were evenly distributed across the country.

Here’s what we learned.

The bad news: we confirmed that consumers are highly concerned about virus transmission, which means they are very likely to postpone non-emergency home services like our traditional programs. Also, the outlook for spend on home-maintenance energy-efficiency measures like HVAC and insulation upgrades isn’t good right now.

The good news: we saw several areas of opportunities, with certain populations being more receptive to in-home services and several segments being receptive to the adoption of virtual services. These are opportunities we have begun leveraging to accelerate our restarts, innovate our offerings and even reach new audiences.

The bottom line is this.

Although our world and our industry are changing and evolving in an unprecedented direction, there are still opportunities to stay ahead of trends and build solutions that appeal to customers. It’s important to remain cognizant of shifting consumer demands in order to meet their needs and continue providing the most efficient support possible.

If you’d like to take a deeper dive into our insights to discover what your customers need right now, schedule a meeting with an expert today. In that meeting, you’ll receive a copy of our May Consumer Sentiment Pulse Insights. (And keep your eyes out next month as we look to update this!)


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