As we continue to adapt to life during a pandemic, consumers are forming new habits as attitudes, values and behaviors evolve. The pandemic has forced us to communicate differently, shop differently and engage in our favorite pastimes in virtual ways.

According to The New Consumer, COVID-19 brought on a period of experimentation and loyalties are changing. We’re trying new things – from finding new ways to meet with clients to trying new products because of the lack of our favorite brands – and like it or not, we all got a crash course in technology.

As a result of these changes, retailers have been forced to evolve to stay competitive throughout the pandemic.

The place that we’ve seen perhaps the biggest shift is to online shopping and direct-to-consumer services for grocery items. The days of walking the aisles at the supermarket are being replaced with filling an online cart and having Instacart deliver those items right to your front door. While all age groups adopted the e-commerce way of making purchases, surprisingly, those 65+ were the fastest to make the switch.


Business has replaced the government to become the most trusted establishment with 61% of respondents saying their trust lies in companies according to the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer. Businesses have persevered throughout the pandemic and have shown they can step up to the plate to tackle this health crisis head on by developing vaccines in record time, finding innovative ways to work and meeting the evolving needs of consumers.

During this time of upheaval, people are placing their confidence at the local level with respondents reporting that their most trusted source for information is their employer and the companies they work for.

Who do we trust?

  • Business – 61%
  • Government – 58%
  • News Media – 57%
  • Social Media – 39%

As the COVID-19 pandemic, social justice issues and political divide continue into 2021, people are looking to a new source for solutions to the unrest that is consuming our nation and the world: their employer. Two-thirds of respondents are expecting CEOs to step in and carry the weight of fixing our societal problems.

This has businesses finding themselves in new, uncharted territory: to be the protectors and guardians of the quality of information the public is consuming. By succeeding in doing so, it will only further deepen the trust people have in brands.


The family that binge-watches together, stays together. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have watched a lot of television. A lot. And we streamed content. More than ever before.

COVID-19 accelerated the popularity of streaming services.

It also opened new distribution channels for Hollywood to get their content in front of viewers while movie theaters were closed down as we’ve recently saw with the releases of “Wonder Woman 1984” and “Soul” to Premium Video on Demand services.

“Consumers are customizing their entertainment experiences and can watch virtually what they want, when they want with on demand streaming services,” said Marc Ehrhardt, president and partner of The Ehrhardt Group. “As this market continues to expand, brands will need to prioritize meeting consumers where they are. Right now, that is on streaming services.”

Netflix remains the top subscription streaming service with 22% of the market share, according to Reelgood’s Q4 2020 VOD Streaming Report.  Amazon Prime and Hulu follow close behind with HBO Max and Disney+ closing in and cutting into Netflix’s share.  In fact, Disney forecasts 260 million subscribers by 2024 and could potentially surpass Netflix, currently at 195 million users.

There is a casualty in all of this. The rise in streaming is also bringing about the fall of the Blu-ray disc and DVD. Spending on these items was down nearly 23% in 2020 from the prior year, according to DEG.

Interested in sharing the latest Gulf South Index data with others? Contact us to arrange a presentation for your group or organization.


New Year Resolutions are a tradition that not only provide a source of motivation and inspiration for many, but also give clues to what trends may lie ahead for the year. For 2021, the same traditional resolutions – lose weight, quit a bad habit, get a new career – may still be in the mix, but more meaningful goals have emerged – goals focused on mental health, self-care and quality time with family, according to the Global Web Index. Businesses will need to find ways to help consumers achieve these new goals by offering products and services tailored to fulfilling these enriching resolutions.

According to Digsite, consumers have changing expectations for 2021 and businesses will need to adapt to retain their loyalty. These include focusing on new consumer values that are centered around health, safety and the home. Consumers are also placing a greater value on the product experience and practicality of an item or service as it relates to these emerging values. As 2020 was the year of consumers trying new things, brands will need to invest in turning those that experimented with new products or services into loyal customers.

We’re trying something new.

Find this information interesting? Feel free to share with your friends and colleagues. 

Want to know more about the findings from today? Contact us at



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.

The Index delves into hundreds of thousands of data points to paint a better picture of how the millions of people living in Louisiana, Mississippi, 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.

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.

Leave a Reply