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The Pulse: Current Event Opinions from U.S. Adults and Our Youth

The Pulse of the American Consumer is focused on continued insight into consumer sentiments for businesses across all industries.


We asked American adults about their sentiments on their current and future personal states, as well as where they think the U.S. will be in terms of COVID-19 and the economy. We also gathered sentiments on shopping and travel from the Gen Z community. In order for businesses to have the most success connecting with their consumers, they have to understand them – what they are interested in, what they need, and how they feel.

At ENGINE, we have the real-time pulse of the consumer, today, and always. Throughout 2021, we will be offering weekly insights through identifying important data points and trends from the voice of the consumer.


KEY FINDINGS AS OF February 14, 2021:

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If you would like more information on ENGINE CARAVAN surveys, contact us below:

At ENGINE, we will be keeping up with the pulse of the consumer throughout 2021, and are regularly running our CARAVAN surveys on current social issues. Contact us at caravaninfo@enginegroup.com for more information or for the full CARAVAN survey findings.

This Online CARAVAN® omnibus surveys were conducted on January 8-10, January 15-17, January 22-24, January 29-31, February 5-7, and February 12-14, 2021.  Approximately 1,000 adults selected from opt-in panels were surveyed. The results are also weighted to U.S. Census data to be demographically representative.

Written by the CARAVAN team at ENGINE Insights.

The Pulse of the American Consumer

Current Events:

How closely have you followed these news events of the PAST WEEK?

  • The latest updates regarding COVID-19 vaccines
    • Total Followed Closely: 70% (no change)
    • Very Closely: 35% (no change)
  • The latest developments concerning COVID-19 infections and deaths in the United States
    • Total Followed Closely: 65% (-1% change)
    • Very Closely: 30% (-4% change)
  • Reports of Coronavirus ‘variants’ being discovered among patients in the United States
    • Total Followed Closely: 63% (+1% change)
    • Very Closely: 27% (-1% change)
  • The second impeachment trial of President Trump
    • Total Followed Closely: 51% (-2% change)
    • Very Closely: 23% (-2% change)
  • The series of executive orders signed by President Biden during his first days in office
    • Total Followed Closely: 60% (-2% change)
    • Very Closely: 27% (-1% change)

How concerned are you currently about these issues?

  • The impact of disinformation and fake news on society
    • Total Concerned: 78% (+1% change)
    • Very Concerned: 49% (+5% change)
  • Contracting the Coronavirus
    • Total Concerned: 69% (-1% change)
    • Very Concerned: 36% (+2% change)
  • Your household’s finances being negatively impacted as a result of the ongoing pandemic
    • Total Concerned: 66% (-3% change)
    • Very Concerned: 32% (-1% change)
  • The amount of time you need to wait to receive the COVID-19 vaccine
    • Total Concerned: 58% (-2% change)
    • Very Concerned: 26% (-2% change)
  • Your general lifestyle being disrupted by new policy decisions made by the Biden/Harris administration
    • Total Concerned: 51% (-6% change)
    • Very Concerned: 25% (-4% change)
  • Your mental wellbeing due to the Coronavirus
    • Total Concerned: 60% (+1% change)
    • Very Concerned: 26% (-3% change)
  • The mental wellbeing of your family due to the Coronavirus
    • Total Concerned: 66% (+1% change)
    • Very Concerned: 29% (-2% change)
  • Shortages of the COVID-19 vaccine
    • Total Concerned: 64% (-2% change)
    • Very Concerned: 33% (no change)
  • Future threats of violent events in the U.S. caused by domestic terrorists
    • Total Concerned: 77% (+2% change)
    • Very Concerned: 38% (no change)
  • The $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill that is currently being debated in Congress
    • Total Concerned: 73% (+1% change)
    • Very Concerned: 36% (-1% change)
  • The final outcome of President Trump’s impeachment trial (new)
    • Total Concerned: 47%
    • Very Concerned: 21%


COVID-19 & The Vaccine

  • 27% of American adults have already received or are currently registered on a waiting list to receive the COVID-19 vaccine
  • 28% have not received it yet but will as soon as its available to them
  • 23% will likely get the vaccine eventually but prefer to wait until more evidence of safety and effectiveness is available
  • 18% do not plan to receive it at all


Consumer Confidence/Economic Outlook

Recent reports indicate it will likely be later in the summer or earlier in the fall before most Americans will have access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Knowing this, whether you actually use them or not, which of these types of places/services would you be willing to go to or use now?

Now, thinking ahead for when the COVID pandemic has been stabilized, whether you actually use them or not, which of these types of places/services do you anticipate going to or using?

  • Stores (for in-store shopping) – 64% Now (+8% change) / 68% Thinking Ahead (+7% change)
  • Outdoor restaurants/ Dining establishments – 45% Now (+7% change) / 53% Thinking Ahead (+8% change)
  • Indoor restaurants/ Dining establishments – 39% Now (+3% change) / 59% Thinking Ahead (+7% change)
  • Staying at a hotel – 34% Now (+4% change) / 47% Thinking Ahead (+6% change)
  • Hair/nail salons/barbershops/tattoo/ massage parlors – 37% Now (+7% change) / 46% Thinking Ahead (+7% change)
  • A large OUTSIDE event, such as a sporting event, concert or festival – 25% Now (+3% change) / 44% Thinking Ahead (+8% change)
  • A large event INSIDE an arena or public building, such as a concert, sporting event, or convention – 16% Now (+1 change) / 37% Thinking Ahead (+6% change)
  • Movie theaters – 24% Now (+2% change) / 45% Thinking Ahead (+9% change)
  • Gyms/fitness centers  – 22% Now (+1% change) / 31% Thinking Ahead (+5% change)
  • Flying on an airplane – 24% Now (+4% change) / 38% Thinking Ahead (+5% change)
  • Public transportation such as trains or buses – 18% Now (+3% change) / 26% Thinking Ahead (+6% change)
  • Leisure establishments such as bowling alleys and arcades – 18% Now (+3% change) / 33% Thinking Ahead (+8% change)
  • Bars/Clubs – 17% Now (+1% change) / 28% Thinking Ahead (+5% change)


Would you say that you (and your household) are better off or worse off financially than you were a year ago?

  • 26% Much/somewhat better off (-1% change)
  • 41% The same (-2% change)
  • 32% Much/somewhat worse off (+2% change)

Now looking ahead-do you think that a year from now you (and your household) will be better off financially, worse off, or about the same as now?

  • 46% Will be much/somewhat better off (+1% change)
  • 40% Will be he same (+1% change)
  • 14% Will be much/somewhat worse off (-2% change)

Now turning to business conditions in the United States as a whole – do you think that during the next twelve months we’ll have good times financially, or bad times?

  • 31% Very good/somewhat good times (+1% change)
  • 46% A mix of both (-1% change)
  • 23% Very bad/somewhat bad times (+1% change)

Looking ahead, which would you say is the most likely economic scenario for the United States during the next five years or so?

  • 14% Mostly periods of economic prosperity (no change)
  • 25% Somewhat more prosperity than instability (+1% change)
  • 33% About equal parts prosperity and instability (-1% change)
  • 16% Somewhat more instability than prosperity (+1% change)
  • 12% Mostly periods of economic instability (-2% change)

Do you think now is a good or bad time for you/your household to:

  • Save more than you are saving now
    • Very/Somewhat Good: 56% (no change)
    • Very Good: 25% (no change)
  • Invest more for retirement than you are now
    • Very/Somewhat Good: 43% (+1% change)
    • Very Good: 15% (-1% change)
  • Buy major home electronics such as a TV, computer, tablet
    • Very/Somewhat Good: 31% (-2% change)
    • Very Good: 12% (+2% change)
  • Make large home improvements/renovation projects
    • Very/Somewhat Good: 26% (-2% change)
    • Very Good: 8% (-3% change)
  • Buy large home appliances (refrigerator, dishwasher, washer/dryer, stove/oven)
    • Very/Somewhat Good: 26% (-1% change)
    • Very Good: 8% (-1% change)
  • Buy furniture and home decor
    • Very/Somewhat Good: 28% (+1% change)
    • Very Good: 8% (-2% change)
  • Buy a new car
    • Very/Somewhat Good: 27% (+2% change)
    • Very Good: 8% (-2% change)
  • Take a vacation or travel for an event
    • Very/Somewhat Good: 23% (+1% change)
    • Very Good: 8% (-2% change)



Thoughts on Shopping and Travel from Gen Z.

“I feel like I too want to travel but I’m subconscious of getting sick. I think right now in my life, I feel like it’s just not the right time for me to be traveling, especially as a student. Even over the summer, I plan on taking classes and internships. I feel like I probably wouldn’t just because it’s not for me.

When I was young, my family traveled a lot. So I feel like I’ve already been to a lot of places. So I don’t feel like an urgent need to go somewhere.”

Ikram, 18, Chicago


“I’m not used to traveling much and I like staying home almost all the time, even before the pandemic. So that’s really why I don’t have a bucket for where I want to go.”

Akriti, 16, New York


“I don’t really have an urge to travel right away. Honestly, I’m okay with just raveling within my own city.”

Sabida, 20, New York


I definitely shopped more online since the pandemic. I don’t feel like it was even intentional. It’s not like I was trying to avoid stores at that point. I started shopping more online and then it was just hard to stop at that point. It’s just real. I need this too and I need this too. And I think it’s just how easy it is. You don’t give much thought until the purchases you make.”

Ikram, 18, Chicago

“I feel like I’ve done even less shopping now that I’m at home because of the fact that I just don’t want to have to deal with going out and waiting for those long lines. Having to prep myself because when I come home, I have to sanitize properly. Obviously, that’s something you do all the time. But now with the pandemic, you have to clean everything and make sure you’re good.”

Sabida, 20, New York



At Cassandra, we are constantly in the field talking to young consumers and observing their habits and behaviors to help brands See TomorrowTM. We’re still in the field at this critical moment—albeit digitally and virtually—seeking out the cultural signals that will help brands understand what they need to do right now and learn what they need to do to prepare during this unprecedented time and for the future.


Dig deeper with the ENGINE Insights COVID Dashboard

The ENGINE COVID-19 dashboard delivers an easy-to-use, self-serve platform providing access to all of our COVID-19 tracking data including industry specific deep-dives and online behavioral data. This tool puts ENGINE’s data in your hands to uncover meaningful insights to your specific business questions.