April 17, 2020 KahnMedia

STAY AT HOME: HOW IS IT CHANGING CONSUMER BEHAVIOR? Critical New Data from a Kahn Media Exclusive Consumer Research Survey

Data is essential for business owners – especially during times of economic uncertainty like we’re experiencing now. From Fortune 500 companies to small businesses, without well-informed data business owners are flying blind, making it harder to navigate the right course to pivot their companies to stay ahead of consumer and industry trends.

Nationwide “Stay at Home” (SAH) orders and the resulting economic turmoil have thrown the business world a curveball. To help provide some insight into how this has affected the media consumption, spending and DIY habits of U.S. consumers, we surveyed more than 1,100 individuals drawn from our Kahn Media Network of Instagram channels with over 1.1 million followers; a paid social media campaign targeting U.S. consumers; and promotion through partner social media channels and email newsletters to get responses from a range of demographic groups.

The results of this survey paint an interesting picture of the changing consumer landscape in the U.S. It also identifies numerous opportunities for businesses that are agile and ready to make the changes necessary to stay on top of the current trends. Overall, 68% of consumers have indicated that the current economy has changed their spending habits – this includes a heavier emphasis on seeking out small businesses (65%) as well as purchasing direct from manufacturers (59%) and more scrutiny on where products they are purchasing are manufactured (57%).

What types of media do you regularly consume?

The survey also gave us more insight into where consumers are consuming media and how their consumption habits have changed since the lockdown. The top four types of media consumed most is not that surprising (social media – 85%, streaming services – 72%, internet radio – 42%, television – 38%), but what is illuminating are the changes in their habits. During the current SAH orders, 61% of respondents are watching more video content (including online, streaming and television) and 64% are spending more time on social media. At the same time, 20% of respondents are reading less written material (both printed and online) and listening to less audio content.

During the current nationwide stay-at-home orders, have you found yourself spending more or less time consuming the following types of content:

One other major trend to emerge from the lockdown is the embracing of do-it-yourself projects as forms of entertainment and ways to stay busy. Over 85% of respondents have taken on some form of DIY project over the past few weeks. The most popular types of projects were automotive (82%), home improvement (49%), gardening and landscaping (29%), and cooking and baking (25%).

Spending Habits by Age Group

Has the current economy changed how and where you spend your money?

Knowing how and where consumers spend their money is one of the most powerful pieces of information a business can have. As mentioned earlier, 68% of consumers reported that their spending habits have changed as a result of the current economic conditions. Digging deeper and looking at responses by age group, we see that this sentiment is more predominant among those over 35 years old (75%) than those in the 18-34 demographic (66%).

Are you spending more or less on recreation, luxuries, or non-essential items/services?

A majority of consumers are changing their buying habits, but what are those changes? We asked respondents how they have changed their spending on recreation, luxuries and non-essential items and services. Both the 18-24 and 35-44 age groups had the largest percentage of people (14% and 11%, respectively) report increased spending in this area. However, the majority of those surveyed (75%) in the 45-54 and 55+ age groups report spending less money on non-essential goods and services.

During the stay-at-home orders, have you found yourself:

Respondents provided insight into their spending mindset during the lockdown and what they are looking for in a shopping experience. First, we see that “shopping small” (supporting small businesses) has become an important factor in the purchase decisions of those in the 35-44 age range. We also see that those in the 45-54 and the 55+ age groups are placing a higher importance on where the products they are buying are manufactured.

Media Consumption by Age Group

What types of media do you regularly consume?

We’ve already seen that social media, streaming services, internet radio and television are the four most popular forms of media consumed by respondents, but other interesting trends emerge once we look at responses by age. First, we see that traditional forms of media consumption (television, local radio, and print magazines and newspapers) are more popular among older age groups. Social media and streaming services are most popular in the 18-24, 24-35 and 35-44 age groups, making a steep drop-off after that.

During the current nationwide stay-at-home orders, have you found yourself spending more or less time consuming the following types of content:

Changes in media consumption habits by age are also interesting. First, the 18-24 and 25-34 age groups are watching significantly more video content and consuming less written content (both print and online). We also see a significant drop in the consumption of audio content in the 25-34 age group. And, while social media use is up across the board, the 18-24, 25-34 and 35-44 age groups show the largest increase in use, with the 71% of those in the 18-24 group reporting increased social media use.

 DIY Habits by Age

If you have, what types of DIY projects have you undertaken?

Taking on DIY projects has become a very popular way to keep yourself busy during the lockdown, with more than 85% of respondents engaging in DIY activities in recent weeks. Looking closer at what types of activities are most popular among the different age groups, we see that home improvement projects are most popular in the 45-54 age group; gardening and landscaping projects are most popular at ages 55+ age group; and automotive projects are the most popular projects across all of the age groups.

If you worked on your own vehicle, what type of work did you perform?

We took a deeper look at the automotive projects that people are undertaking. Hands down, the most common work being performed on vehicles is routine maintenance. We also see that making performance modifications or installing new accessories is most popular among enthusiasts in the 18-24, 25-34 and 35-44 age groups, with a sharp decline at ages 45+ because they are more focused on maintenance and repairs.

Attending Mass Gathering Events by Age Group

Once the stay-at-home orders are lifted, in what timeframe will you feel comfortable attending a mass-gathering event (concert, festival, etc.)?

We also wanted to gauge consumer sentiment towards returning to mass gathering events after the SAH orders are lifted. Overall, we found that consumers are eager and excited to once again attend events as soon as three months from now. When we look at the responses by age, we see that younger people are more apt to return to events quickly after the lifting of SAH orders, whereas older people are more cautious. Results show that 82% of those in the 18-24 age group and 74% of those in the 35-44 group said that they would attend an event within three months, but only 57% of the 55+ group indicated readiness to return to events within that same time period.


There are many opportunities for savvy business leaders and marketers to engage with consumers more than ever during these uncertain times. With the nationwide Stay at Home orders, people of all ages are consuming video content and social media at unprecedented levels. But some older consumers are still sticking to more traditional sources of media like television in addition to streaming services or internet-based content. With the increased emphasis on patronizing small businesses and buying direct from manufacturers, if you are not already selling direct-to-consumer in some form, now is the time to make the pivot.Need help? We’re here for you


The 15-question online survey was distributed through the Kahn Media Network, a group of 10 Instagram channels that reach over 1.1 million consumers, as well as through the social media networks of select Kahn Media clients, a targeted paid campaign on Facebook and by our friends at the Good Guys Rod & Custom Association. This allowed us to reach a diverse demographic of U.S. consumers of all age ranges and socioeconomic backgrounds.