May 20 2020
You’ve probably seen them: viral clips of young people going absolutely wild after being “released” from quarantines. One increasingly infamous news story (which has racked up over 6 million Twitter views) is a prime example, showing young consumers partying on the beach with little concern for social distancing and great excitement (to put it lightly) about being out and about. It’s easy to see these headlines and videos and think that the majority of Gen Z and Millennials are raring to get out of the house and will be racing to bars, restaurants, stores and events as soon as they’re allowed.
But the reality is likely to look very, very different.
Last month, YPulse researched their feelings about returning to large events after social distancing is over, and while we found that they are indeed looking forward to attending events again, they’ll be returning to that behavior with caution. Now, with more states lifting or relaxing stay-at-home mandates, we’ve asked Gen Z and Millennials to tell us how they feel about these quarantines coming to an end. Here’s what we found:
So are young consumers excited for quarantines to end? Many do say they are excited and happy—but not nearly as many who say they feel cautious and even anxious about the end of quarantine rules. Fears over a second wave of COVID-19 are very real, and YPulse’s data from early May shows that over half of both Gen Z and Millennials believe that Coronavirus will still be a threat in six months or more. The majority say that they will still be afraid to be in large crowds of people even after social distancing ends, and that how often they go out in public has been permanently changed by COVID.
Millennials are more likely than Gen Z to say that they are cautious and anxious about the end of quarantines, and these older consumers are as likely to say they’re scared about rules being lifted as they are excited and happy. They’re also more likely than Gen Z to say they’re feeling vulnerable, unprepared, and panicked. These are not the emotions of a generation ready to flood back to retail and other in-person experiences. And like it or not, 19-37-year-olds have far more spending power than Gen Zs, which means that brands are more likely to be impacted by their hesitations and fears.
This data, and our early research into young consumers’ post-Corona outlooks and behaviors, clearly indicates that brands need to be prepared for a slow return to normalcy—and that young consumers might never be ready to go back to the way things were after fear of infection has been so deeply instilled in them. Taking clear and conscious measures to help ease fears and protect consumers will be appreciated and likely necessary. Nearly two in five tell us that they would be more comfortable going to events or public spaces that have maximum capacity requirements, and require visitors to wear face masks and get their temperature taken before entering. Brands will need to proceed with caution—as many, many young consumers will be—but also be actively future-proofing their businesses to bring as many products and services into homes as they can.
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