The market research industry, along with everyone around the globe, is trying to come to terms with the Coronavirus (COVID-19), a fast-breaking and scary event. In response to the ever-evolving situation, the ARF presented an industry-wide Virtual Town Hall on March 17. ARF President & CEO Scott McDonald, along with Rex Briggs of Marketing Evolution, Jerome Shimizu of ABCS Insights, and Rick Bruner of Central Control, Inc. and Research Wonks presented the latest facts, forecasts and implications on a global scale.
- So far, based on data from China, South Korea, the Diamond Princess Cruise Ship, Italy and elsewhere, the US remains on track to experience Rex Brigg’s “Forecast 1.0” — with 15% of the US population (49M) infected, resulting in an estimated 779,779 deaths, with another 3.9M in serious/critical condition. This horrific result would break the back of the US health care system and would result in a protracted recession or depression.
- The key driver of Forecast 1.0 is the rate of infection across the population — referred to in epidemiology as the R0. So far, the R0 in the US appears to be faster even than in Italy — implying that each infected person has enough social contacts to infect 3+ others.
- We can avert this terrible scenario of nearly 780,000 deaths by slowing the spread of the virus NOW. China and South Korea show that quarantines work. By taking that medicine now, we can effectively stop the virus’s spread within 60 days. If we can slow the epidemic down and keep the number of infected in 2020 below 3.3M, fewer than 50,000 will die — still an awful result, but vastly better than our current course. This requires aggressive government action and broad support from the American public.
- Economic impact will be determined by our success in curbing the epidemic. The longer we delay, the deeper and longer the recession, and visa versa. Smart marketers will be sensitive to the anxieties of the public, tuning messages and offerings to the moment.
- Since we are now in a phase of social distancing, the ARF Town Hall made an open appeal to companies that have location data that could help track success in getting people to stay at home and reduce social contacts, and the impact of those measures on COVID-19 spread. Ideally, we would have daily data for 2019 and 2020 for the US, South Korea and Italy. Contact the ARF if you can help!
Jerome Shimizu – Co-Founder, ABCS Insights
Rex Briggs – Executive Chairman, Marketing Evolution