In The Harris Poll Tracker (Week 121) fielded from June 17th to 19th, 2022 among 1,653 U.S. adults, we found that more than 8 in 10 Americans (84%) are concerned about the economy and inflation, a 6%-pt decrease from last week, however, (82%) of Americans do think we are headed into a recession this year. 

For this week’s update, we delve deep into America’s financial and spending psyche with a top to bottom look at their views on the stock market, their financial situation, and their future spending (or lack thereof). Next, a Harvard Business Review analysis of the dual CEO role features our management here at The Harris Poll. Also, how businesses caught with worker shortages and early retirements are rushing to promote intergenerational teaching among employees, how parents may be the new swing voters and the power of nostalgia in branding and product development.

Check out our America This Week: From The Harris Poll podcast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts for data-driven discussions between our CEO John Gerzema and CSO Libby Rodney. They’ll be covering the latest trends in society, the economy, and the consumer marketplace. 

As a public service, our team has curated key insights to help leaders navigate COVID-19. Full survey results, tables, and weekly summaries can be accessed for free at The Harris Poll COVID-19 Portal. We will continue to actively field on a regular cadence to track the shifts in sentiment and behaviors as the news and guidelines evolve.

Bracing for Bears

Tumbling markets and forty-year high inflation have America on edge this week amid the bear market. Here’s how they’re feeling.

  • Tuned in to the market: Half (52%) of Americans say they follow the stock market, with (20%) saying they follow it very closely, and even more (59%) say they are aware of the current bear market, with those retiring soon, Boomers, high household income (all 69%), and men (66%) being the most aware.
  • Most Americans don’t think the bear market will be over quickly: Half (52%) think it will last a year or more, a quarter (23%) say a few months, and just (8%) say a few weeks. 
  • Almost two-thirds (64%) say the recent market declines suggest a recession is imminent, while just (36%) say it’s a normal fluctuation and people shouldn’t panic. GOP (75%), retirees (72%) Boomers (71%), Gen X (70%) are among the most concerned that the current bear market signals an imminent recession.
  • Bracing for impact: (62%) of Americans are concerned that the recent declines will negatively impact their current financial situation. Also, Two thirds (65%) of those retiring soon are worried, with a quarter (24%) saying they are very worried.
  • No backup plan: Among those who are worried about the recent market declines (62%), a third (33%) say they’re worried because their investments are their backup plan if an emergency were to occur, and one in five (19%) say their investments are their safety net if they were to lose their job.
  • Boomers are worried about the recent market declines because their investments are their emergency backup plans (38%), and because they planned to use their retirement accounts soon (21%).
  • Short-term turbulence; long-term optimism: Over the next year, one in five (22%) of Americans think their financial situation will be worse, but (50%) of Americans think the outlook in the next five years will put them in a better financial situation, and (57%) say a better in 10 years.
  • As it stands today, two-thirds (62%) of Americans rate their financial situation as very or somewhat good, meanwhile (38%) rate their financial situation as poor.
  • Those most at risk: Gen Zers are most likely to consider their current financial situation as very poor (17%) compared to Millennials (13%), Gen X (15%), and Boomers (23%).

Takeaway: Unless you are over 60, you haven’t lived through $5+ gasoline prices and 6 and 1/2% mortgages. Look for Summer to be America’s ‘Fat Tuesday’ ending with a September decline in consumer spending. In our data, Three in five (61%) of Americans say they are planning on cutting back on spending in general because of the recent stock market declines, with Gen X (67%) and women (66%) most likely to agree. And thinking even further ahead, at least half of Americans are already considering cutting back on future purchases with (63%) saying fall/winter travel, fall/winter sports, (59%) holiday gifts, and (50%) back-to-school shopping.

Brands Will Be Playing Political Battleship This Summer: Ad Age-Harris Poll

Companies beware, the next few months promise to be chock-full of potentially devise issues according to Stagwell Chairman/CEO (And Harris Chairman) Mark Penn’s op-ed in Ad Age.

  • First, the closer the issue is to what the company does, the more important it is for the company to take a position as The Axios-Harris Poll 100 found that companies slow to respond to political crises, or do it inconsistently, suffer the most in terms of consumer reception and trust.
  • Disney’s ranking dropped significantly–from 37th to 65th this year–likely because of its delayed decision to speak out about Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill after initially opting not to address it.
  • The poll found that nearly one-third of Americans say companies should prioritize the views of their customers(31%) and employees (28%) when weighing in on political issues. Less than a quarter (16%) say they should prioritize the views of shareholders.

Takeaway: “It is clear, especially if you offer a mass-market product, that how you respond may literally determine billions of dollars in revenue and reputation,” says Penn and recommends brands “use research to see what employees, consumers, and shareholders think about the issue and your role in it.”

Is It Time To Consider Co-CEOs? Harvard Business Review

Two heads are better than one, a lesson businesses might want to heed according to a study of 87 companies led by co-CEOs (The Harris Poll included) published in the Harvard Business Review.

  • First, it’s not a popular model: Of the 2,200 companies that were listed in the S&P 1200 and the Russell 1000 from 1996 to 2020, fewer than 100 were led by co-chief executives.
  • Yet, the results are evident: Of the 87 public companies researched, the authors found that companies with co-CEOs generated an average annual shareholder return of (9.5%)–significantly better than the average (6.9%) for each company’s relevant index. 
  • Further, nearly 60% of the companies led by co-CEOs outperformed, and co-CEO tenure was not short-lived, matching the sole-CEO average of about five years.
  • Some of the best practices include having trusting partners, clear responsibilities and decision rights, and complementary (yet diverse) skill sets (the authors write, “At the Harris Poll, for example, John Gerzema and Will Johnson report that by sharing the top role, they can “divide and conquer.” Johnson leads HR and the business units, while Gerzema is responsible for new business, client service, and innovation. Each plays to his strengths”.

Takeaway: Co-CEOs bring diverse competencies, backgrounds, and perspectives to the job and this collaborative leadership model is a promising option for large, multifaceted firms, those with agile-based management, and those engaged in technology transformations.

OK, Boomer, We’re Listening: Express Employment Professionals-Harris Poll

Boomers are leaving the workforce in droves. But how will this impact business IP? In partnership with Express Employment Professionals, and covered by Supply Chain Dive, we found that (59%) of Boomer employees have shared much or all of the knowledge needed to perform their job responsibilities with their younger counterparts. 

  • In the workplace, Baby Boomers are more likely to feel knowledgeable (66%), and younger employees view their older coworkers as having valuable knowledge (61%), people they can learn from (48%), and role models (43%). 
  • However, despite the importance of knowledge sharing, more than a quarter (27%) say the processes at their organization change so often that their knowledge and experience in their role will be irrelevant by the time they retire.
  • Still, wisdom is in the eye of the beholder: (84%) of U.S. employees say it’s a big loss when older employees retire without passing on their years of knowledge to younger employees. 
  • Why not a slow fade? In an April poll with Express Employment, (78%) of workers 57-75 said they would rather be semi-retired than leave the workforce entirely but only (21%) of their employers offer semi-retirement.

Takeaway: “Every generation brings value to the workforce, and time is running out to enact knowledge succession plans for these senior employees”, says Express Employment International CEO Bill Stoller. The time is now for companies to create knowledge succession plans as nearly half of employees have been left learning how to do the job on their own.  

Why Parents Could Be The New Swing Voters: National Alliance for Public Charter Schools-Harris Poll

The state of American education is a growing concern for voting parents this year according to our latest survey in partnership with the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, as covered by Politico and The 74

  • More than 4 in 5 parents said education has become a more important political issue to them than it was in the past, with 2 in 5 strongly agreeing.
  • Specifically, among parents who vote in federal, state, and local elections, education was second only to taxeswhen casting their ballots. 
  • And 8 in 10 (82%) of American parents say they would vote for someone outside their party if the candidate’s education agenda matched their own. 

Takeaway: The poll suggests education could become a “single voter issue” among parents regardless of their party affiliation and underscores the budding significance of school-related concerns in this fall’s elections. 

“It’s-a Me, Mario!” The Pull of Nostalgia: Harris Brand Platform Nintendo Case Study

In our latest case study utilizing Harris Brand Platform, we examined how gaming giant Nintendo effectively harnessed the power of childhood nostalgia to generate enthusiasm for newer releases among today’s adult consumers.

  • Context: Research shows that the immersive quality of video games is a strong catalyst for triggering nostalgia, more so than any other form of entertainment.  
  • Nintendo harnesses nostalgia by recreating versions of beloved games and reusing favorite characters across multiple titles, such as the upcoming ninth interaction of their wildly popular Mario Kart franchise that was announced in January. 
  • Numbers speak for themselves: From December 2021 to January 2022 Nintendo saw a substantial increase in itsbrand equity score (62.4 to 69.0), which aligned with the brand’s product announcement (purchase consideration: +11.2, perceived product quality: +11).

Takeaway: While some argue game remakes undermine creativity in the video game space, Nintendo’s nostalgic strategy has built a loyal fan base ready to purchase the latest game in the franchise, removing some of the gambles from their development investments. 

Download the Data

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll from June 17th to 19th, among a nationally representative sample of 1,653 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 June 17th to 19th, among a nationally representative sample of 1,653 U.S. adults.


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