The Gulf South Index (GSI) is more than just a measurement or poll of our region – it’s actual attitudes, beliefs, concerns and behaviors of our citizens.

Our region is distinctive, our people respond differently than the rest of the country. This Index is not just a topline number, but a measurement and communication tool which will allow you to speak directly to many, faceted individuals in this area.

“The Gulf South Index combines the public relations expertise of The Ehrhardt Group and the analytics capabilities of Causeway Solutions to provide actionable insights for entities looking to understand and market to our region,” stated Causeway Solutions CEO Bill Skelly.

“The people of the Gulf South have distinctive personalities, beliefs and habits. We want to learn more about why our neighbors and friends think what they think and how that thinking influences their decisions about what to buy, what information to share and where to go,” said Marc Ehrhardt, president of The Ehrhardt Group.

WHO IS STILL FEELING OPTIMISTIC?

In an earlier issue of the GSI, we told you about the optimism that still exists in our region as we look forward into 2020. Using the results from that survey, the data science team at Causeway Solutions took a closer look at the research to find out exactly WHO was still feeling optimistic in the Gulf South.

Which segments feel best about the year ahead?  And who are they?

The Birmingham Bloomers

The Birmingham Bloomers are between the ages of 25 and 34 and reside in north and central Alabama – off the coast – who are moving up in their careers.  In their current position, they have the flexibility to work from home through this pandemic, so they have not seen a decrease in salary or felt the pain of any economic slumps.  They likely don’t have children, so they are not feeling the stresses of the new “school from home” responsibilities placed on those with kids.

To reopen our country, they believe we should isolate high-risk groups, such as seniors, while lifting restrictions for everyone else. These individuals prioritize the economy first.

While socially distancing, they are spending more time on their computers and playing video games.  The only items they have a hard time obtaining are cleaning products and hand soaps.

They want to receive more information about long-term plans for getting our country back to normal.

Beachfront Locals

The Beachfront Locals live along the Alabama and Florida coasts and have service industry or blue collar jobs that have not yet fully felt the impacts of the economic constraints – but will once the “tourist season” begins and they start to feel the effects of the shutdowns.

These individuals do not have children and haven’t saved enough for their retirements, so any economic downturn will affect them in both the short and long term.

Currently, they are most concerned with maintaining access to food and drink for themselves, their friends and their families during the shutdown.

To these individuals, this is still a healthcare crisis and it has not fully transitioned into an economic one, but that change is coming.

These consumers want to hear about good things ahead and hopeful messaging to get them through this crisis.

Rural Retirees

The Rural Retirees largely reside in rural Mississippi counties and Louisiana parishes. To them, the bulk of this issue is centered in the more urban areas of their state and they want to see immediate plans for reopening the country.

They think this shutdown should last another 2-3 weeks at most before it is time to start reopening the country and getting back to daily life.

How do they want that done?  Geographically.

They want the lockdowns to continue based on affected areas, rather than basing them on high-risk populations, and they feel there is no reason their neighborhood or community can’t go back to normal life.

These are older voters who are mostly retired, and while they are potentially part of the high-risk population, they do not feel as though the virus is a part of their personal community.

WHY THIS MATTERS?

Not all individuals in our region are the same and not everyone feels optimistic for the same reasons.  That’s why we conduct this research and that’s the premise of the Gulf South Index.

Communication strategies in the Gulf South need to be targeted to specific audiences, who are consuming and reacting to information in vastly different ways.

WHAT WILL POST-PANDEMIC LIFE BE LIKE?

The groups we’ve outlined here and others across the nation are also starting to think about how life will look post stay-at-home orders. Many have taken up a new craft and have utilized new technology or services that they had not tried prior to the health crisis. Data from Morning Consults suggests that Americans in the Gulf South and across the nation are enjoying starting a new hobby and utilizing convenience services and they will likely continue these activities post-pandemic.

Now is a defining moment for brands that offer online shopping or delivery services, particularly for groceries. Consumers are using these services out of necessity and for health safety measures now, but whether or not this carries over to post-pandemic life will depend on customer service and lasting impressions of the overall customer experience once people have more options for shopping.

THE GULF SOUTH INDEX

The Gulf South Index is a cooperative project between The Ehrhardt Group, a public relations, content, issues and crisis firm, and Causeway Solutions, a nationally recognized research and data analysis company, that are both based in the Gulf South. When the rest of the country may be zigging, we want to know if the Gulf South will zag and why, sharing that insight with you.

See anything interesting here? Feel free to share with your friends and colleagues.

Want to know more about the findings from today? Contact us at info@tegpr.com.

HOW DID WE FIND THIS STUFF OUT?

Causeway Solutions and The Ehrhardt Group conducted a series of mix-mode surveys, each of 1,500 adults with a margin of error of 2.5%.  The most recent survey was conducted on March 24 and 25, 2020.

We cannot comment on the methodology of the surveys and research we did not conduct, which is why we do our best to link to the source articles or studies that we share here.

Have questions or comments for the Gulf South Index team, contact us at info@tegpr.com.