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And so it begins...

The “theory” of opening up America collides with the “reality” of it happening

As the country begins to re-open, emotions run high on both sides of the #covidreentry and range from joy and excitement to fear and trepidation.

I had an article ready to go yesterday based on last week’s data. Yet, the new data that came in over the weekend stopped me in my tracks, so much so, that I had to completely pivot to report a massive change in sentiment.

The “theory” of opening up America collided over the weekend with the “reality” of it actually happening.

New data shows that fear and anxiousness increased not decreased with the news of the country reopening. The #CovidReEntry Curve, introduced week ending April 13th, showed that 54% of Americans were ready to get out there and 46% were going to wait and see or were anxious to very anxious. Not much changed during the week ending April 20th. Yet, today the percent of Americans who overall are more cautious grew to the majority at 59%, led by Americans that are now anxious to very anxious, growing from 20% to 34%.

What will make consumers feel safe again? It depends.

Let’s set the stage by looking at the data in aggregate before diving deeper by segment. Research data from the 1,000 American’s 18+ reveals what is important to make consumers feel more comfortable/safe to return to normal activities.


  • 76% Clear plan by authorities to help prevent/mitigate a second outbreak as the economy reopens

  • 76% No new US Covid-19 cases reported

  • 73% Once a vaccine is thoroughly tested

  • 72% Once testing is made widely available and easily accessible by all


  • 48% Ventilator availabilities

  • 44% Friends and family starting to go out again

A Paradoxical Dilemma: The “All Clear” Signals Vary By Segment

Think of it this way. At the grocery store, there are those that are content with reading a claim on the front of the label vs those that turn the package over to read and decide for themselves. Neither is right or wrong, it’s just the way we are wired.

The same holds true for the Covid Re-Entry. Let’s look at a few of the key differences. For the 12% that are “First Out the Door”, their top signal is the Government restrictions are lifted, notably in the middle for the total population. This same signal ranks in the bottom two for the “Very Anxious” Consumers. The First out the Door group also will be looking to friends and family as a signal to go out which is last for the “Very Anxious”.

Why It Matters:

All segments matter in the success of this re-entry. There is something to be learned from each stage. We need those that are confident now to venture out.

One watch-out: The “First Out the Door” customers, and for that matter employees, that come back through the doors are not representative of those that will come later, from a precautionary and safety standpoint. We can’t presume that early feedback from the early guests that “all is good” will hold as the re-entry curve unfolds. The “First out the Door” customers will be the easiest to satisfy. The needs and expectations of those that will come later will be different. It may be awhile until the “Wait and See”, “Anxious” and “Very Anxious” venture out, but they are watching and waiting intently. They too want to get back to joy; it may just take a bit longer.

Moving From Now to Next

Having a clear plan is the signal that business leaders can control and shape the most. That’s stating the obvious. What is not to be missed is the “how” and “why” you are doing what you are doing at various points in the re-entry. This will help build trust and empathy for employees and customers feel safe again as all of this unfolds.

Later this week, we will share the steps consumers are willing to take themselves to do their part to protect themselves and other during the re-entry.

Lastly, the re-entry model applies across all consumers whether they are your customers or your employees. Understanding the different mindsets is critical to your business’ successful re-entry. You are welcome to use this framework in your upcoming consumer studies. Just message and I will share. We are all in this together!

Our results are based on a weekly survey fielded among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 Americans aged 18+ by ProdegeMR, a leading market research panel. The sample is balanced according to US Census on Age, Gender, Region and Ethnicity. Thanks to my research partners at ProdegeMR for providing the continued support to get this research done! Couldn't have done it without you! 

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