The Gulf South Index measures how people make decisions about what to buy and where to go so brands can know how to best collect information and make decisions in 2020.

Residents of the Gulf South remain hopeful that 2020 will be better than 2019, even as they struggle in the same ways as the rest of the U.S. in dealing with COVID-19.

At the end of March, 66% of people living in the U.S. Gulf South region were optimistic that 2020 will be a better year for them and their families than 2019. Nationally, 55% of people felt the same, according to the Gulf South Index, a cooperative research project between The Ehrhardt Group and Causeway Solutions.

The U.S. Gulf South is defined as Louisiana, Mississippi, coastal Alabama and the Florida panhandle.

“The people of the Gulf South work hard and know what it’s like to stay positive through great tragedy. We are seeing this attitude front and center with COVID-19. We are struggling with the same challenges as the rest of the nation when it comes to staying healthy, accessing medical care and buying groceries. Plus, much of this region is hurting with the falloff in the price of oil combined with COVID-19. Maybe we see the light at the end of the tunnel a little easier than some other places,” said Marc Ehrhardt, president and partner of The Ehrhardt Group.

“When the Gulf South reopens for business, knowing what consumers are thinking at an individual level will be an advantage for industries coming back. This data shows that enthusiasm for the current year still exists in the Gulf South and opportunities still exist for companies to reach new and current consumers,” said Bill Skelly, chief executive officer, Causeway Solutions.


All of these numbers are consistent with trends nationally. 91% of people said they are staying away from gatherings of 10 or more and 84% are mostly staying inside, according to Ron Faucheux’s Lunchtime Politics newsletter which included data from a survey by Selzer/Grinnell College taken March 27-30. Of the people surveyed in that study, 82% had changed travel plans.

We are all spending more time cooking, too.


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.

Throughout the rest of 2020, the Index is delving into hundreds of thousands of data points to paint a better picture of how the millions of people living in Louisiana, Mississippi, coastal Alabama and the Florida panhandle are going about their lives. We want to find out more about how we make decisions – from what we are buying and how we are getting our news, to where we plan to travel.

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


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.


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