COVID-19 Tracker on Clean Living Behavior

Tracker Highlights

Tracker Study Insights

Behind each blue box below is a panel with the latest insights from our last survey of the CLE community on the week's topic.

Click on each box to view the details.

We're focusing on Clean Label Enthusiasts® as a consumer segment whose values and trendsetting buying behaviors have pulled the food industry and influenced the general population.

Why we focus on Clean Label Enthusiasts®

We rarely see such a major behavioral disruption as is happening in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Change will occur, the question is what changes will happen more quickly and which will take longer to materialize. Which behavior shifts are just short term and which will become long term change?

Fear drives significant change. When we see large behavioral disruptors, people change their mindset, their motivations change, and their priorities change. Clean Label Enthusiast® behaviors provide lead indicators into the behaviors which are changing now and are indicators of future change.

This ongoing research looks closely at how mindsets and behaviors are changing:

  • Changes in the Mindset of Consumers
  • Shopping Behavior Changes
  • Tradeoffs/Product switches and why
  • Key motivators for behaviors

Research Study Design:

All the work is ongoing with US National Representative Primary Shoppers who are Clean Label Enthusiasts®.  The quantitative research involved three waves of surveys: 285 participants over 3/12-3/21, 114 participants over 4/2-4/7, and 126 participants over 4/10-4/14.  During this same period (3/12 to 4/14), we also conducted 8 qualitative research studies (two per week) involving 249 participants from our community of Clean Label Enthusiasts®.

Stay-in, Save Lives: couple cooking at home

Find recent and future webinars on Clean Label Enthusiasts® at WebinarsNow.

Click on boxes to reveal results.

10-18 magic wand

October 2020

Finding Holiday Magic

Consumers Anticipate "Different" Holiday Season

As the weather cools, people start moving indoors and looking toward the holiday season.  We asked CLEs about their emotions and plans as the season will be very "different" this year.

10-18 Holiday expectation

What are Current Motivators?

In September, consumer purchases s were primarily Functional motivated

10-18 motivators over pandemic

In September purchase motivations were more functional as more people were concerned with job losses and other economic stressors, along with most schools starting virtually.

So what changes are people making?


X -Travel (visiting out of town family 75%)

X - Dining out (72%)

X - Attending parties (72%)

X - In-home entertaining (68%)

X - Shopping in-person (64%)

X - Festive clothing (51%)

“Everything is so up in the air with COVID this year ... We may celebrate without children and grandchildren which is not really a celebration. Very sad this year.”

The Same or More…

√ Home-cooked meals (89%)

Online shopping (88%)

√ Charitable Donations (87%)

√ Gift cards & mailed gifts (82%)

Home Made Gifts (79%)

Decorating (70%)

“Decorating is one of my favorite things to do around the holidays. It brings cheer and joy.”

Emotions when anticipating the holiday season

10-18 winter cloud snowflakes

A majority of CLEs chose positive emotions to describe their outlook.

10-18 positive emotions

In the mid-range of emotions scores, there were equal numbers of people claiming Excited/Energetic as Worried/Anxious.  Also, Indifferent and Dreading were noteable.

10-18 moderate emotions
10-18 low negative emotions

Where will People Find their Holiday Magic?

10-18 icon gift

Personalized Gifts

"I would love to visit the small shops in our town square. I always buy pieces of pottery made by local artisans for my daughters.”

10-18 icon people group

Creative Smaller Affairs

. I love to cook and this year have changed things. I won’t be cooking for a large group this year.

10-18 icon connect

New Ways to Connect

“We’re having a virtual holiday gathering this season.

How Do We Help Make the Magic Happen

10-18 icon gift

Personalized Gifts

How can your messaging or your product be tailored or packaging so it can become a part of something personal they create?

How can you create a way for people to create a personalized gift without a large expense?

10-18 icon people group

Creative Smaller Affairs

How can you help them be [more] creative?

What new foods can you help them experience and cook?

How can you cater to smaller groups?

10-18 icon connect

New Ways to Connect

How can you create a way to share an experience virtually?

How can you’re your brand be involved in making new connections?

What new experience are you able to create that has never been created before?

  • Oct 18, 2020

    Holiday Season Reimagined

    Anticipating a "Different" Holiday Season

    CLE's anticipate creative holiday celebrations and making gifting more personalized. 

    They will miss their traditional gatherings and energy, but not the accompanying stress. 

Webinar: Finding Holiday Magic

September 21, 2020

Finding Beauty in the Beastly Times

With everything else disrupted, beauty routines are an area we can maintain control.  We are using beauty products to help us cope.

Emotions toward beauty routines have shifted from pre-pandemic times ...

from Rushed & Stressed  →   Relaxed & Calm


B&b masked sillouette
Maintained routine graph1

22% Report changing their Skincare Routine due to COVID-19


2020 Women’s Facial Skincare Consumer Report.

While disrupted habits were expected, 80% of people reported maintaining their usual routine, both in InsightsNow CLE Community and a recent NPD study.

Motivations for Maintaining Beauty Routine    80% of people







Protects my skin, hair, or nails (from UV rays, pollution, etc.)

I care about the long-term health of my skin, hair and/or nails

Makes me relax

It's entertaining

Want to look healthier

Fits my personality

Motivations for Changing Beauty Routine    20% 





No one sees me

Less social occasions

Saving money

Better for my skin

Those people changing beauty routines indicate they are using less products.

Emotions Towards Beauty Routine

Prior to Pandemic


Rushed and Stressed

“My life prior to the pandemic was busy. Fast moving and hardly had time to see what is around me.”

“Rushed, busy, lots of things to do”

During Pandemic


Relaxed and Calm

“I want to keep my normal routine to feel at peace and in harmony as much as possible during this time of uncertainty”

“Just floating along... trying to pick the best out of every situation and keep on going.”

COVID sequestering gave us more time

More time made us feel less rushed and more calm

COVID heightened our fears for our health

Our routines and habits helps us have more peace

4 in 5 maintained their beauty routine, as this is one of the few routines which we were not forced to change

How to Find Beauty in the COVID Beast

1. Focus on Motivations

    • Functional motivations are the foundation – everyone still needs to take care of their body in a healthy way
    • Social motivations are centered on improving self rather than impressing others
    • Psychological motivations, especially using beauty routines to improve mood is key to keeping primary products selling
    • Sensorial motivations are just starting to spike. Bringing out new experiences and connecting them to calming emotions is key to success

2.  Be attentive to the need for price sensitivity

  • There are still many people struggling to meet the base functional motivations, offering support will improve brand connectiveness
  • Sep 18, 2020

    Beauty in the COVID Beast

    With extra time at home, CLE are mostly maintaining beauty routines which gave them a sense of "personal" time, peace, and control during health fears.

    This is one of the few routines which we were not forced to change.

beauty.and.covid.beast Crpd

Sept 2020

What COVID Myths do people still believe?

Advice is overflowing on practices to prevent contracting COVID related to food and personal hygiene.  Which ones are trusted at this time?

Belief that Foods do Not transmit COVID is moderately high.

While there are numerous news sources reassuring consumers about the safety of frozen foods, food packaging, fresh fruits and vegetables, and even food imported from China, there are still a few people who believe the mis-information being spread through social media.

The most believed of the myths is COVID is being transmitted on food packaging with 39% believing this to be true.  Most scientific sources view this as extremely unlikely.

Food myths

Belief in Effectiveness of Personal Health Practices

Using neither Vitamins nor Mouthwash will prevent you from catching the coronavirus that causes COVID. While both are good health practices, their use have no bearing or connection to whether a person contracts COVID or not.  While most people got this correct, nearly 2 in 5 CLE believe the Vitamin myth.

Health practices of washing hands and mask use which have been shown to be good “helps” in the spread of COVID are mostly supported

  • 93% washing hands
  • 79% mask protects you
  • 86% mask protects others
personal health practices

Belief in Transmission to Pets

About half of those surveyed believe that dogs or cats can contract COVID-19 from people.

These are both TRUE. There are many reported and verified cases of cats and dogs becoming ill due to the same COVID-19 virus which is affecting people.

Surprisingly only about half the people believe these to be true.

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Pets get covid
  • Sep 6, 2020

    COVID Myths - True or False?

    CLE trust most expert advice about preventing COVID, however disproved myths regarding food transmision and personal hygiene still persist.



August 13, 2020

Restaurant Food Packaging Materials Concern

Due to COVID, majority of consumers (78%) are concerned about restaurant food packaging.

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8-13 concern packaging no title2

Comfort eating in restaurants is tied to trust in safety and cleanliness practices

Restaurants can be trusted to sufficiently clean and disinfect reusable items

8-13 bar trust to clean

More consumers trust restaurants to clean and disinfect reusable items.

Reusables are dirty and dangerous

8-13 bar dangerous

However, consumers are split on if reusables are dangerous.

I would always like the option of reusable items in a restaurant

8-13 bar3 option reusable

Almost half want the option of using reusable items.

Single use are essential for safety and cleanliness

8-13 bar4 essential singles

Most feel single use items are essential for safety and cleanliness.

Single use plastics are unnecessarily wasteful and bad for the environment

8-13 bar5 plastic wasteful

However, majority feel that plastic is wasteful and bad for the environment. 

Consumers amount of concern depends on the packaging type

Single Serve Condiments preferred regardless of COVID concern.

8-13 pkg single serve2

Disposable Cups Preferred by those who are more concerned  with COVID.  Looking at not concerned we see more prefer disposable cups, but a segment still want reusable cups.

8-13 disposable2

Disposable silverware Prefered by Consumers concerned about COVID while those not concerned prefer reusable. 

If possible, provide both disposable and reusable.

8-13 silverware2
  • Aug 13, 2020

    Restaurant Throw-aways vs. Trusting Re-usables

    Consumers weigh sustainability in restaurant choices, but opting for less packaging comes down to trust in cleanliness and safety.

8-13 reusable cup tracker

July 25, 2020

Increased Social Interactions affect Diet Choices

Community Interaction Levels

More than half of CLE's are keeping Low Levels of community interaction even if their area has eased restrictions.

7-25 Community opening

Restrictions are easing up, but majority of people are still interacting within their community at low to moderate levels.

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7-25 Community interaction2

CLEs Eating Lifestyles may be inflenced by their Community Interaction Levels

We are seeing a trend that indicates with greater community interaction levels there is an increase in weight loss lifestyle.  Specifically we are seeing an increase in high protein and low carb lifestyle.  Possibly indicating that weight loss via high protein and low carb will be a trend with increased community interaction.

7-25 Eating Lifestyle- High Prot
7-25 Eating Lifestyle- Low Carb
7-25 High Protein image
7-25 Low Carb image

Organic foods and Less Processed foods have inverse trends related to Community Interactions

With increase community interaction we see an uptick in eating organic.  Could be related to the season or the ability to get out organic produce.  In contrast with lower levels of community interaction we see an interest in consuming less processed foods.  This possibly may be related to being home and having time to cook.

7-25 Organic x Processed Title
7-25 Organic bars
7-25 Less Processed bars
  • Jul 25, 2020

    Eatin' Good in the Neighborhood?

    Community interactions are influencing a weight loss dietary lifestyle. 

    Those interacting with more people are reaching for higher protein and low carb choices.

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July 10, 2020

We Are Now Seeking Foods to Lift our Mood

Now CLE's indicate significant changes in motivations for grocery store purchases

In early May 2020 we asked CLE what they were NOT comfortable doing in regard to dining:

Clean Label Enthusiasts are now shifting from buying products primarily related to the functionality they provide, to seeking out products that will lift their mood and provide additional sensorial experiences.

woman with delicious hamburger

Motivations are organized in one of four ways:  Functional, Social, Sensorial, & Psychological.

By organizing the motivations this way, we are better able to align underlying emotional drivers and estimate which motivations will take priority as people adjust to COVID realities.

Functional Motivators

are central to everyone now as consumers feel their basic human needs are threatened – safety & protection, health, and preparedness.

Sensorial Motivators

help people have experiences which help them cope and provide moments of joy and comfort 

Emotions Wheel 2019

Social Motivators

important due to changes in family relationships, peer-to-peer social relationships, who we trust, and our feelings toward ourselves. 

Psychological Motivators

help people achieve blanace in their lives.  Psychological balance is achieved through mood change.

We are seeing great change in motivations:

Functional health and safety motivators

are still important even though they have dropped from 84% of purchases in March to 54% at the end of June. 

Sensorial Motivators

56% of new product purchases at the end June were driven by a desire to satisfy cravings for specific sensory experiences.  

This is up from 11% in March. 

Social Motivators

providing healthy alternatives for family members or responding to recommendations from friends also increase from 24% in March to 44% at end of June. 

However, as the eve of July 4th approached there was a notable absent uptick in purchasing products for holiday parties.   This is consistent across all major holidays we’ve seen during the pandemic (Easter/Passover, Memorial Day, and Independence Day). Social has been focused on enhancing family communications versus friends and other social encounters.  

Psychological Motivators

61% of new product purchases at the end of June were driven by a desire to lift or change moods.  

This is up from 6% in March. 

Opportunities for Consumer Product Companies And Retailers: 

Functional Motivators

Positioning products to deliver health and safety benefits remains important to shoppers.

  • Find new opportunities to highlight these values, however as shoppers become accustomed to new store flows, 
  • Find new ways to focus their attention on the products, rather than on the movement patterns. 

Sensorial Motivators

Sensorial cravings stem from experiences people are deprived of. 

  • Look into which experiences they are most missing and
  • Focus marketing and messaging on the proper replacement or reminder of those experiences.
  • Avoid reminding people of experiences which they are not able to re-create (e.g. large gatherings).  

Psychological Motivators

Ideas for impulse products: 

  • Where are the eyes drawn in store now? Put product and advertising there.  
  • Where are eyes going that are not valuable to enhance their safety or shopping experience? Change those! 
7-12 Period Motivations predictions



New product innovations are not far away – however we need to solve the lack of impulse buys. With the new shopping experiences impulse buys continue to be low. Finding a way to focus attention on the impulse buy space is difficult with the safety measures drawing the shoppers attention at check-out. Retailers and marketers should focus on finding ways to draw attention without compromising safety.

Social events MAY still take time in the USA. When social becomes more realistic, there will be a jump in event based foods.

BUT WHY WAIT? Be proactive and create a campaign that can create a shared food experience virtually!

  • Jul 10, 2020

    We are Now Seeking Foods to Lift our Mood

    People's motivations for buying products at grocery stores have changed significantly. 

    CLE's are now seeking out products that will lift their mood and provide additional sensorial experiences rather than for functional purposes.

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June 29, 2020

Overall people are feeling similar comfort levels between in-person and virtual visits. 

While fewer people would visit urgent care facilities than hospitals, the distrust isn’t directed towards the institution. It’s over fellow patrons.

  • They are not afraid of the doctors, other medical professionals and the systems in place.
  • People are afraid of the people they would be sitting next to.

They want:

  • limited number of people in waiting area …
  • to see that areas are disinfected and
  • other people wearing masks.


Communicating the precautions and protocols to minimize crowds and isolate the infected will help reinforce a sense of safety, and increase the level of comfort people will have when considering a medical visit.

95% of CLE need one or more essential protocols in place to make them feel safe in medical facilities. 

With disinfecting, limited people, and masks as the top three. 

6-29 Medical office protocols
6-29 Medical visit comfort level

Virtual visits are a quick at home option

Learning curves have eased and virtual is a quick option for less serious medical visits, eg. prescriptions, routine exams and check-ups.

“Virtual visits with the Doctor are very good. It is one on one time without interruptions. I'm so glad this has started, it is a Godsend during the pandemic.”

“I like the telemedicine idea....I’ve had a telemedicine appointment about 2 1/2 months ago it was probably the best doctors visit I’ve ever experienced in my life. The reason for this was because it only lasted probably about 12 minutes. It was a doctors visit on the Zoom app. Great idea! The one thing I don’t like is that I can’t get procedures done when using an app. I only go to one place and that place is only taking telemedicine appointments at least til November.”

“I think telemedicine is great for minor things during the pandemic. I do worry about people with no internet access especially the elderly, because they may need care right away but are to afraid to go into the office. These are the people that would really benefit from this service”

“Virtual visits with the Doctor are very good. It is one on one time without interruptions. I'm so glad this has started, it is a Godsend during the pandemic.”

In-person visits are still necessary

When having procedures, tests, and emergencies. 

Many have been encouraged by the safety measures in place at health care facilities to keep from being patients from contracting COVID while visiting their doctors.

“I think that they are relatively safe because of all of the precautions being taken to minimize chances of getting sick.”

“I had an extremely important visit with my oncologist that couldn’t be done over the phone and I was completely comfortable with it due to precautions in place.”

Seeking In-Person Medical Care is Contingent upon what type of care

Keeping the current COVID-19 situation in mind, how willing are you to participate in the following? 

6-29 on-site Type of Care
6-29 Medical visit waiting

While virtual visits have continued potential, but patients crave the personal interactions.

Having a medical visit virtually met with some interest.   

However, there were nearly ¼ of CLE that are not at all interested in this type of medical care, regardless of the COVID pandemic.

6-29 Virtual Medical visit interest

Patients miss personal interaction

The missing link in virtual visits are the personal interaction and attention people receive when at a facility to make the service expectational. 

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer.  My surgeon had a reputation of being irritable and cranky, but he was reputed to be a really good surgeon.  Over the course of several visits he answered all my questions and we began to develop a mutual respect for each other.  When I checked in for the surgery I spent the morning in the nuclear medicine department having tests.  I was never cared for so well in my life.  The tests were tedious and seemed to go on forever, but staff kept me as comfortable as they could and we got to know each other well.  They transferred me to the pre-surgical staff and they were also very professional and caring as they got me ready for the surgery. 

When I woke up the surgeon was literally dancing at my bedside while he told me I would be fine.  I'd never seen him smile, but that day he grinned from ear to ear.  Staff asked me how  I could be such a happy patient, and I told them their care and compassion had a lot to do with my attitude.”

“I must admit every time I see my doctor. my doctor's nurse make sure to come into the office and have a conversation with me other than about medical issues.  She knows about my many family losses in a five-year span from my granddaughter, sister, aunt, cousin, best friend and mother.  It sent me into a state where I was covering up my emotions. 

Somehow, she noticed and the first thing she did was gave me a hug and said she loved me.  That one act of love changed my whole attitude.  Now she always comes into the office no matter what she is doing to speak with me.”

6-29 Telehealth
  • Jun 29, 2020

    The waiting (room) is the hardest part

    For in-person medical visits, people are afraid of other people, not the trusted medical professionals. 

    People they would be sitting next to are the biggest concern.  They want protective measures in place!

  • Jun 29, 2020

    Virtual visits have continued potential, but personal touch is missed

    Nearly ¼ of CLE that are not at all interested in this type of medical care, regardless of the COVID pandemic.

6-29 Medical office

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