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Coronavirus: Changing the Landscape of Consumer Conversations in the US

Published by Engagement Labs March 23, 2020


With the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic causing widespread anxiety and disruption, we are monitoring its impact on the national conversation in the US and also how it is affecting brands.

In the US, our data are clear and unambiguous in terms of just how much the virus has impacted our day to day lives – half of the offline conversations that people tell us impact them the most are about Coronavirus.

Words describing US consumers “most impactful conversation” of the past day

Words describing US consumers “most impactful conversation” of the past day

Turning to online, we see that President Trump is the biggest part of the online conversations relating to COVID-19/Coronavirus. While the president doesn’t make a big appearance in consumers “impactful” offline data of conversations from the past day, he does surface in online conversations demonstrating what we see regularly in TotalSocial: an often quite different perspective between what gets talked about online versus offline.


Online Conversations Relating to Coronavirus: Wordcloud

Engagement Labs - Coronavirus Topic filtered to US posts

Impact on Brands

In terms of people’s brand-related data, the impact is clearly taking shape. For over 600 brands that we track regularly as part of our TotalSocial platform, there is a -4% year-over-year drop in conversation volume, with a wide variation by sector. 

Offline conversations are increasing versus a year ago for brands in the Health/Healthcare (+18%), Media and Entertainment (+9%), and Household Products (8%) sectors. The biggest volume declines from a year ago are for about Automotive (-22%), The Home (21%), Children’s Products (-17%), and Beverages (-11%). 

% Change in Category WoM Impressions Year-on-Year

Due to the travel restrictions and the spread of the virus on cruise ships, we see increases in talk about Hotels, Cruise Lines, and Airlines. We expect that to change as people’s plans settle and they get used to the new normal. 

This word cloud demonstrates that within the online conversation about brands, Coronavirus is the top and dominating topic. We monitor 600 brands regularly in our TotalSocial platform, and this word cloud shows what is being talked about as part of those brand-related conversations.

TotalSocial Online US benchmark Brands Wordcloud

We at Engagement Labs know that marketers in the US eager to understand how best to navigate these turbulent and scary times. We are monitoring online and offline talk in real time, and will update our readers via this blog.

If your company has a COVID team at work, and we can assist with unique data (offline as well as online social intelligence), or if you wish to discuss the impact of the coronavirus on your brand or your category, we invite you to reach out to us.

Meanwhile, please stay safe and healthy!


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