Disbelieving Good Economic News, Saving and Splurging, Flipping The Bird to the X Rebrand, and AI Shopping.

The latest trends in society and culture from The Harris Poll

Good morning from Washington, where we’re hosting a third of our Risk and Reputation luncheons with corporate communicators and marketers. 

In our America This Week survey fielded September 15th to 17th among 2,096 Americans, anxiety over inflation and jobs, while still high, is cooling slightly. Concerns over a potential U.S. recession (76%) are down -3%-pts from mid-August. Also, affording living expenses (68%, -3%-pts), the solvency of U.S. banks (-6%-pts), and job security (46%, -8%-pts). 

However, inflation frustrations remain. According to the September Harvard CAPS-Harris Poll fielded September 12th to 14th among 2,103 registered voters, inflation is the most critical issue facing the country and the most important issue to voters personally.

This week, four new Harris Polls of note: First, in a Harris survey with The Guardian, Americans are distrustful and misinformed about a rebounding economy. Also, how does Gen Z handle a tepid economy? (By saving and splurging). And in a new Harris Poll with Ad Age, despite its rebrand, most X users still call the platform “Twitter.” Lastly, we detail the potential of AI to improve online shopping.

You can download the new ATW monthly summary tabs and August ppt deck here.

Americans Don’t Believe The Good Economic News: Guardian-Harris Poll

According to a Harris Poll with The Guardian, Americans don’t trust the government’s economic news – or the media’s reporting of it. 

  • Two-thirds of Americans (65%) believe that the economy is worse than the media makes it out to be rather than better (35%) – something even half of Democrats believe (49% v. GOP: 82%, Independents: 66%).
  • And Americans are failing an economic pop quiz: More Americans (wrongfully) believe the U.S. economy is shrinking (59% v. growing: 41%) and that the unemployment rate is nearing a 50-year high (51% v. low: 49%).

  • While Democrats and Republicans are split on whether Bidenomics is improving the U.S. economy overall (60% v. 12%), both parties agree it isn’t being implemented well (62% v. 58%). 
  • Nearly 7 in 10 (68%) Americans said it’s difficult to be happy about positive economic news when they feel financially squeezed each month (Republicans: 69%, Democrats: 68%).

Takeaway: “All these perceptual-reality gaps underscore Biden’s difficulty in claiming credit for economic gains,” says Harris Poll CEO John Gerzema. “Americans either view the economy through their politics or aren’t feeling it in real life, or both.”

Gen Z Are Saving and Splurging: USA Today-Harris Poll

In a new Harris study with USA Today, Gen Z is both big spenders and savers. 

  • Most (89%) of Gen Z have saved money on something in 2023, more than any other generation – such as opting out of social events to save (36%).
  • Yet they’re also not shy about splurging on items: (75%) of Gen Z spent a lot on something in 2023, also more than other age groups. 

  • While a majority of Gen Z feel good about managing their bills each month (73%), they don’t harbor feelings of long-term security, as (67%) doubt they will feel financially secure anytime soon
  • And (60%) fear they are one financial emergency away from being completely underwater.

Takeaway: More than any other generation, Gen Z also spends in a way that reflects “eco-conscious values” that align with “budget-conscious values,” said Libby Rodney, chief strategy officer at Harris Poll. While it may seem paradoxical, it makes perfect sense that Gen Z shoppers are both savers and spenders, Rodney said, noting that pinching pennies on necessities allows them to splurge on luxury items.

It’s Still Twitter To Me: Ad Age-Harris poll

In our latest research with Ad Age, the Twitter name is not going away quietly in the minds of its users.

  • While 8 in 10 (79%) U.S. X users know about the rebrand, (69%) still refer to the platform as Twitter and posts as “tweets.”
  • And while most X users still say that their engagement is “time well spent” (59%), half (49%) said that X’s content is generally “more negative now than before Elon Musk’s acquisition.”
  • Yet X is beating out Threads: For those users on both X and Threads (Meta), 7 in 10 (69%) users prefer X
  • It’s not like Twitter’s name doesn’t have baggage: According to the 2023 Axios-Harris Poll 100, the then-named Twitter ranked near the bottom at 97th in reputation, just one spot higher than 2022 (#98th).  

Takeaway: “X, formerly Twitter, isn’t just any company. Twitter was, and X is, a powerful and influential driver of culture and conversation,” said Jamie Gilpin, chief marketing officer at Sprout Social. “It’s even turned never-before-heard terms like ‘tweet,’ ‘retweet,’ and ‘hashtag’ into common vernacular. Twitter becoming X is as much of a culture shift for consumers as it is a rebrand for the company.”

AI Hooks Itself Into Gen Z Consumers: Rokt-Harris Poll

New Harris data with Rokt in Ad Age shows how Gen Z envisions A.I. improving e-commerce. 

  • Overall, (63%) of global respondents (U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Australia, and Japan) say that, due to inflation, they now spend more time online searching for lower prices, relevant deals and offers
  • Gen Z globally sees the role A.I. could play: (88%) of Gen Z consumers think A.I. can improve online shopping, and over half (55%) are interested in A.I. assistants making online shopping more convenient (e.g., simplifying product discovery, anticipating their needs and desires, etc.).
  • Personalization is a must: When shopping experiences aren’t personalized, 20%–29% of global consumers say they will walk away from their cart, the brand, or the experience.
  • Forget online shopping, Gen Z stepping into virtual shopping: Additionally, (51%) of Gen Zers say they are interested in augmented reality and virtual reality shopping experiences.

Takeaway: “Brands and retailers across categories are scrambling to identify how they can best use A.I. to elevate their e-commerce customer experience and drive revenue,” said Elizabeth Buchanan, Chief Commercial Officer at Rokt. “This research provides decision makers with a roadmap for creating new strategies and implementing advanced tech, such as A.I., to significantly help improve the online shopping experience in ways that will surprise and delight shoppers.”

Download the Data

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll from September 15th to 17th among a nationally representative sample of 2,096 U.S. adults.

John Gerzema headshot

John Gerzema


Download the Data

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll from September 15th to 17th among a nationally representative sample of 2,096 U.S. adults.


Related Content