We are living in uncertain times, but one thing is certain: the better we understand audiences, the better we can serve their needs and wants as marketers. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Nine has launched and conducts a fortnightly consumer sentiment poll to understand how we can help brands connect with our audiences in 2020.  

Nine. Where Australia Connects. 


Consumer Pulse is undertaken via short online surveys conducted fortnightly with Nine’s audiences - across linear television, 9Now and digital properties (and network sites), plus readers of news mastheads The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review (print + digital) and listeners of Nine Radio stations (2GB, 3AW, 4BC, 6PR, 2UE, 4BH, 6GT and Magic).

Capturing the mood

Week 19 - commencing 17th August 2020

Headline Sentiments
“Relieved that I live in WA.  And may our closed border stay in place”

“Concerned but not fearful. Still feeling safe if we social distance and wear a mask” 

“Enjoying people being friendlier and more community minded during Covid” 

Hot Topics: COVID & life beyond


Virus vs economy

73% of The Age readers are more concerned about the spread of the COVID-19 virus than the long-term damage to the economy


Al fresco

68% of SMH readers would like local councils to encourage outdoor dining - by closing streets to traffic and permitting more rooftop venues during the pandemic.


Aged care

90% of SMH readers think the aged care royal commission should be expanded to investigate the effect of privatisation in the sector


Job keeper pays

67% of Financial Review readers think it is unfair that some listed retailers received the wage subsidy, given they have now passed on higher dividends to their shareholders.


School excursions

75% of 9Nation audiences think school camps and excursions should be cancelled for the rest of the year, either in specific states or across the country


Christmas plans

61% of 9Nation audiences think their Christmas plans and/or traditions will change this year due to COVID-19.

The mood steadies

As virus numbers have stabilised in Victoria so has the national mood. Levels of concern have fallen, feelings of fear, frustration and annoyance have receded. However there are other currents toofeelings of stress, isolation and boredom have increased, anxiety and scepticism continue to lingerwhile hopeoptimism and calm are making a return. 

Concern tracker: % of those feeling ‘extremely / very concerned’

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Mood tracker: fear subsides but stress, boredom and isolation increase

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Mood tracker: hope, optimism and calm make a return

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Faith in government 

Despite the ongoing challenges, most audience groups continue to show confidence in their State governments’ handling of developments. Confidence is highest among 9Nation audiences and readers of SMH, The Age and Financial Review; Nine Radio listeners are more polarised.

Confidence in State governments’ current handling of developments 

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Life impacts: the evolving experience

While the COVID experience started out as a relatively universal one, it has since evolved and fragmented to carry different meanings for different people – with some obvious challenges for marketers.  

Broadly, the proportion of audiences reporting ‘life impacts’ is receding as changes to lifestyles and habits become more entrenched. The ‘new normal’ is now just normal. 

However some impacts are becoming more acutely felt over time – cancelled plans and events, effects on mental health, anxiety, and stress, and physical health. 

Changing life impacts: April – August 

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Diverging experiences

Beyond this, experiences differ across groups – for example:  

  • Location: Clearly Victorians are impacted by COVID changes moreso than others across the country, with lockdowns and restrictions taking their toll. Those in NSW are also feeling the ongoing effects of cancellations and closures. By contrast, those in Queensland and WA are most likely to report ‘no impacts’   
  • Gender: Women are more likely than men to report effects their mental health, anxiety and stress levels, and are also more likely to be impacted by needing to assist or care for others 
  • Age: Younger audiences (18-34) are most likely to report the effects on their mental health, anxiety and stress levels, as well as being unable to go to their place of work or studyThose aged 35-54 are most likely to report the effects of home schoolingchanged childcare arrangements and working from home. Older audiences (55+) are most likely to report the effects of forced isolation or social distancing, and assisting or caring for others  

Marketing messages: changing preferences 

Given the challenges of connecting with diverging audiences, we explored audience preferences regarding marketing messages and how these have changed over time.  

Broadly, audiences have expressed increased appetite for more positive, light-hearted, inspiring and fun content and messaging – while also highlighting the need for sensitivity when speaking to those still in difficult circumstances. Equally, audiences are open to messaging that shows empathy and humanity, without wanting brands to take the role of a ‘friend’: 

“They need to be sensitive to Melbourne's additional restrictions and the impact it is having on everyone” 

“I’d like to hear from their employees telling us how they are coping and why they need our business 

I find sentiments like we’re all in this together, and we understand, really untrue and irritating 

“A business is not a friend, our “relationship” is obviously transactional 

Preferences for marketing messages differ by audience group, and some have changed in importance over recent months.  

  • 9Nation audiences have a growing preference for light-hearted or fun messagesas well as discounts and concessions
  • SMH and The Age readers have a growing preference for general positive news, inspiration and ideas to make life easier, celebration or recognition of exceptional efforts of people or staff, and light-hearted or fun messages 
  • Financial Review readers are increasingly interested in news about company performance, how companies are supporting their staff and general positive news
  • Nine Radio listeners are most interested in a mix of practical, factual information, positive news and light-hearted messages   

9Nation audiences: marketing messages & changing preferences 

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SMH and The Age readers: marketing messages & changing preferences 

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Financial Review readers: marketing messages & changing preferences 

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Nine Radio listeners: marketing messages  

*note Nine Radio listeners were added to the survey in Week 18 so comparative preferences over time are not available 

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Moments of light: the simple things 

Finally, we asked audiences about some moments that had made them smile in the last week, and pleasure was most often found in the simple thingsmoments with children, animals and nature, a win for their footy team, funny moment on TV, a satirical cartoona windfall, or kindness from strangers 

“Kids playing outside and drawing on the footpath with chalk” 

The little girl who lives next door made me a face mask in my favourite colour 

“My cat video-bombing all of my zoom meetings  

 “The rabbitohs winning” 

Geelong's victory over St Kilda 

 Watching it snow 

Clive Palmer memes 

“I won $20 in tatts 

How pleasant people are to each other as we negotiate social distancing 

 [Pip the dog] returning home from overseas 

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