In The Harris Poll Tracker (Week 127) fielded July 29th to 31st, 2022 among 2,011 U.S. adults, we find that (83%) of Americans remain concerned about the economy, inflation, and jobs, yet down 6 pts from last week. Eight in ten also remain concerned about America entering a recession, which remains unchanged from last week.  And nearly two-thirds (65%) are concerned about the latest BA.5 COVID variant and “newest” pandemic, Monkeypox (58%). 

New stories this week include a CNBC-Harris Poll on Gen Z’s salary expectations (which seem to price in inflation). Also, two new Harris polls with Ad Age on why companies value thought leadership but – yet few implement it effectively – and twenty brands gaining attention with Gen Z. Another poll is our new Made in America poll with Retail Brew on how inflation impacts purchasing from U.S. brands. Lastly, do you have recession anxiety? A new Harris-Northwestern Mutual/CNBC poll details how to take tangible steps to improve your financial/mental health. 

Check out our America This Week: From The Harris Poll podcast on Spotify and Apple Podcasts with me, John, and our CSO Libby Rodney on this week’s data and more.

Gen Z: Inflation, Student Loans, or Just Wild Salary Expectations? CNBC-Fortune-Harris Poll

What do you need to make to feel financially healthy? We put this question to Americans in partnership with Personal Capital, as covered by CNBC and Fortune. And surprisingly, Gen Z reports needing the highest salary of all generations to feel “financially healthy,” at a rate 2x that of Boomers and 1.5x higher than Gen X. 

  • Show me the money: Gen Z reports needing $171,633 in salary, higher than Millennials ($133,758), Gen X ($112,222), and Boomers ($78,317). 
  • Why the considerable number? Over half of Gen Z Americans (54%) say their income isn’t keeping up with inflation. Even more – two-thirds (66%) – say they feel like their standard of living is declining.
  • Gen Z also reported lower confidence today in both their investment portfolio (64%) and retirement savings (48%) compared to Millennials (77%, 56%, respectively).  
  • And less than half of Gen Z (44%)  feel confident in the U.S. economy, with just half (50%) confident in the economy six months from now (v. Millennial: 48%, 54%). 
  • Gen Z defined: Born between 1997 and 2012, they are between 9 and 24 years old and tally up to nearly 68 million Americans in the U.S.

Takeaway: The pandemic had a devastating effect on younger workers, putting them further behind in accumulating any savings or being able to get out from under student loans, credit card debt, and rising prices. Paul Deer, VP of advisory services and Personal Capital, put this way: “Whereas Gen Z has the highest salary expectations to be financially healthy, they have the lowest savings amount to be financially healthy.” And according to our latest report with Northwestern Mutual, Gen Z could benefit from utilizing financial advisors as only (30%) reported having worked with one, even though (74%) claimed their financial planning needed improvement. 

The Gap In Thinking Among Thought Leaders: Ad Age-Harris Poll

What’s the difference between wanting to and being a thought leader? Harris Poll’s co-CEO Will Johnson’s latest op-ed in Ad Age based on a recent Harris Poll report reveals the business community has a thought leadership gap – and a big one.

  • More than 9 in 10 top executives (92%) say that thought leadership is “critical to building authority in my industry.” 
  • And yet, few seem to be doing it well: Just over a quarter (28%) said that their organization has a robust thought leadership strategy, while only one in five executives (20%) characterized their company’s approach as highly effective.
  • A costly oversight as a whopping (89%) of executives surveyed said that they use thought leadership to drive sales, to build trust with clients or prospects (85%), and to build brand authority (83%). 
  • With the decline of traditional broadcasting and print channels, corporate advertising has gone intimate, personal, and B2B. And it’s here where companies can thrive by owning unique points of view and building communities around their market positions, values, and beliefs – and where technology means that white papers can be TikTok videos or engaging podcasts. 

Takeaway: Thought leadership has been misconstrued as personal branding when it’s really the most effective means of upper funnel marketing, especially in B2B. Getting it right is important for more than just executive vanity,” reports Johnson, “The executives surveyed estimated that thought leadership drives an annual value of $2.7 million for their brands – a figure that rises to $3.6 million among Fortune 100 executives.”

Twenty Brands Gaining Gen Z Attention Right Now: Ad Age-Harris Poll

With all the disruption from the metaverse to NFTs, what do young people actually think is effective, modern marketing? According to our latest Ad Age-Harris Poll Gen Z brand tracker report, Converse is winning Gen Z attention via savvy marketing moves, with NBA, Funyuns, Timberland, and JetBlue cracking the top five as well after gaining the largest increases in their equity scores in Q2. 

  • Converse attributed its brand’s rise with Gen Z to a renewed investment in its so-called All-Star Community, a grassroots micro-influencer community of 2,300 people worldwide rooted in creativity and aimed to help Converse with its marketing efforts – along with their other collaborations with Kendrick Lamar and Snapchat.
  • Funyuns, the onion-flavored rings made by Frito-Lay, claimed the poll’s third spot thanks to media love for products, both real and fake. “Like so many brands getting an unexpected lift from TikTok, Funyuns’ time in the sun came in May when the Food Network recycled a clip showcasing how the snack is made for TikTok,” Harris Poll co-CEO Will Johnson said.
  • Footwear brand Timberland, which placed fourth, put out a campaign in February called “TimbsTrails” that highlighted a new emphasis on digital marketing by inviting people to play games and win prizes, adding to their announcement of a take-back program to accept used products to revamp and resell or disassemble, and their recent partnership with streetwear brand Clot.

Takeaway: Campaign effectiveness is reliant on mastering new channels like TikTok, which is also quietly becoming a default search engine for younger Americans. Modern marketers will need to speak Gen Z’s language by using culturally relevant partnerships, brand collaborations, and influencer campaigns to gain attention, especially as Gen Z will soon become the largest cohort of consumers.

Does Made in America, Sell? Retail Brew-Harris Poll

Much as consumers may want to see that “Made in the USA” tag on a t-shirt, inflation can make that tag feel kind of itchy, according to our latest poll with Retail Brew

  • American splendor: Nearly half (48%) say they’d be willing to pay around 10–20% more for an American-made product over an imported one, with just under a fifth (17%) willing to pay ~30% more.
  • However, nearly two-thirds (64%) of Americans who have shopped for U.S.-made goods in the past year report that inflation hurts them doing so.
  • Three-quarters of respondents say that it is important for brands to make their products in the U.S. (75%) and for brands to be based in the U.S. (74%). 

Takeaway: There are several reasons why the desire for American goods doesn’t often translate to actual sales, including offshoring U.S. manufacturing, resulting in cheaper prices that American consumers jump for instead of the Made in America label. Still, while America may be divided, our preference for Made in America labels is unwavering. So, can patriotism instill premium pricing? According to our latest Harvard/CAPS-Harris Poll, only (16%) of Americans have a favorable view of China and Russia (10%). 

Do You Have Recession Anxiety? Here’s How to Relieve It: CNBC-Harris Poll

According to our survey with Northwestern Mutual for their 2022 Planning & Progress study, as highlighted in CNBC, more than half (54%) of adults said they are anxious about their finances. Here’s what one professional recommends to cope:

  • Narrow your focus: Observe, but don’t absorb, all of the information regarding recessions and the economy – a tough thing to do when (73%) of Americans are worried about affording their living expenses, according to our latest Harris Poll weekly tracker. 
  • Meet a financial advisor: Those who have a financial advisor have less anxiety about finances than those who don’t (46% v. 54%).
  • Pretend it’s the “worst-case scenario”: That’s right, stress yourself out about what could happen, and then talk out the potential outcomes – you may find that you have an answer to “and then what happens if…?”
  • Take a deep breath: Take a minute to think about your next steps as it may stop you from making bad financial decisions like panic-selling stocks when the market drops. For example, when the stock market broke into bear territory, only a fifth (21%) of Americans believed that it would last more than a year. 
  • Expand your frame of reference: You want to narrow your focus, not your reference, so think about how the financial road may look 10 to 15 years in the future. And currently, half of Americans believe their financial situation will improve in the next five and ten years (50%, 57%, respectively). 

Takeaway: It may be time to consider these steps to ease your financial anxieties as we found in our latest Harvard/CAPS-Harris Poll survey that more than half (56%) of voters think their personal financial situation is worsening v. (46%) who say it’s getting better.

Download the Data

This survey was conducted online within the U.S. by The Harris Poll from July 29th to 31st, among a nationally representative sample of 2,011 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 July 29th to 31st, among a nationally representative sample of 2,011 U.S. adults.


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