The Toluna and Harris Interactive COVID-19 Barometer is a bi-weekly index that taps into a community panel of 30+ million members providing accurate and timely information on the world’s perceptions regarding the Coronavirus. The latest research was carried conducted between April 9 2020 and April 14 2020 and surveyed 1,047 people in the US.


Despite the public health crisis, 70% of Americans are still shopping in-store for groceries, as opposed to shopping online. Frozen foods (65%), cleaning products (56%) and toilet paper (53%) continue to top American’s grocery lists. An overwhelming 85% of respondents blame shortages on items like hand sanitizer, pasta and toilet paper on other shoppers.

When asked about how the coronavirus lockdown measures have affected their usual shopping habits, 60% of respondents have either gone without products or services or paid more (47%) for something than they usually would. 18-24 year olds are much more adventurous than older Americans when it comes to trying new products as a result of not being able to access a product or service during the pandemic. 

Overwhelmingly, retailers (77%), service providers (75%) and brands (68%) are highly regarded in the US.  Of those surveyed, respondents agree that all the above have been informative, helpful and reassuring throughout this crisis. 

Brand loyalty still matters but consumers currently forced to choose

When people’s usual brand is out of stock and they’ve had to choose an alternative, respondents were evenly split on whether the specific brand was critical, with 56% feeling it was and 44% noting it was not.

The survey also revealed consumers are willing to buy a different brand but not a different product in specific instances, particularly when it comes to personal toiletries, paper and canned goods.

  • Nearly half (49%) will not buy a different product when it comes to personal toiletries such as deodorant, toothpaste and shampoo but they will invest in a different brand
  • 47% of respondents are happy to purchase a different brand of paper products but not a different product (which might explain Americans hoarding of toilet paper!)
  • 44% of people are willing to buy a different brand of a canned goods, such as peas, but not a willing to switch to a different product such as spinach



Lucia Juliano, head of CPG and retail research at Harris Interactive and Toluna, said: “Despite the social distancing and government warnings to stay home, Americans are still shopping for their groceries in store, and if they can’t easily find what they need, they are willing to pay more. The survey also reveals that paper and cleaning products continue to top America’s shopping lists which could explain why many stores and online retailers are experiencing shortages in these respective areas. And yet, it’s very clear that consumers recognize retailers, service providers and brands are doing a phenomenal job working to get the public what they need and are communicating to their shoppers regularly and appropriately.”

“Toluna are strongly committed to providing these insights, garnered from a US panel within Toluna’s 30+ million member community, on a regular, timely basis throughout the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. By doing so, the broader market can be kept informed of people’s sentiments as they change during these uncertain times.”