How Consumer Fear Has Affected “Shoptimism”

Shoptimism blog post featured image

How Consumer Fear Has Affected “Shoptimism”

For most of us, even the simplest outing requires a completely different mindset than it did just a few short months ago. To shop, we must arm ourselves with masks, sanitizer, and an iron will. This is drastically affecting what we’ve termed as “shoptimism” or the balance between fear and optimism when making purchasing decisions. Our CEO Rebecca Brooks wrote about this topic in her most recent piece for Forbes in an article titled, “High Anxiety: How fear and optimism shape consumer shopping behavior.”


Our research has uncovered that a wide number of fears impact the way we shop. By examining consumer behavior across several categories, we were able to examine more closely the emotions that are driving decisions. In the article, Rebecca looked at how financial fears were affecting the amount and frequency of spending among certain demographics. She also touched on the impact of political and personal fears, indicating that “there is still a strong correlation between reduced spending and personal optimism, this effect is smaller than for financial or political fears.”


But what can brands do to reassure their audiences in a time of uncertainty? Shifting focus to a more consumer-centric approach is vital. There are several actions brands can take to help guide their customers, including:


  • Listening more closely to consumers by seeking out as much holistic information as possible about audiences, and include questions in market research about fear and anxiety. 
  • Accounting for the changing external context in which we are all operating, with an understanding that perceptions and priorities are shifting nearly as rapidly as the news cycles during global upheaval.
  • Using solid research insights to advise authentic, supportive actions for both internal and external audiences. 
  • Communicating clearly and often about what you are doing and why, focusing on practical, educational messages to make your customers feel empowered. 


Rebecca concludes her piece by writing, “Brands can choose to be a voice of comfort, instilling confidence in their consumers and assuaging fears with the right message. Fear and anxiety aren’t going away any time soon, so it is important to acknowledge these emotions and come up with strategies to address them head on.”


Our Facing Fear Research Series

Drawing on world-class analysis from researchers at Alter Agents and commentary by thought leaders in economics, political science, and psychology, this reporting series is a must-read to understand the consumer mindset entering the second year of the pandemic.

Facing Fear: Understanding Anxious Consumers
Facing Fear: Consumer Anxiety in 2020
Facing Fear: Overcoming Consumer Anxiety

Interested in having thoughtful research like this conducted to answer your business challenges?


Contact Us

Thought Leadership Updates

Get updates in your email.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

More Posts