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The Journey Back To Joy Post Covid-19

Updated: Apr 16, 2020

Dining Out, Going to Church, and Getting Hair Done are the Top 3 Activities

to Look Forward to in a Post-COVID World

When we are told we can’t do something, it makes us want to do it more.

It lights a fire of appreciation for the things that bring us joy while also opening us up to new choices we might not otherwise have considered. These truths will likely be the catalyst and the needed spark for the economic recovery when consumers are released from the current lockdown.

Different questions are needed

There’s a lot of negative data out there showing the devastating impact on businesses. We don’t need more research to tell us that. We need to ask different questions that help businesses understand what happens when the pent up demand is released. Which categories bring the most joy and which will be chosen first? Are these one in the same or not? Also, what are the new activities that consumers are doing now that might continue after we are released?

All businesses should begin thinking about the light at the end of the tunnel. Businesses that can look ahead to the “consumer re-entry” will emerge ahead of the pack on the side.

Americans are resilient

The national research was conducted by Lisa W. Miller & Associates to give hope to struggling businesses. It reflects the resilience of Americans and the simple truth that shutdown businesses bring us needed joy, not just function. The study was fielded in the US, March 30 - April 6 among a nationally representative sample of 1,000 respondents aged 18+. This is the first release of the current data. There will be more insights to come from this data set and subsequent waves of research.


The top 5 of 17 categories that provide the most “joy”

Among those that can no longer participate in /are doing less often:

  • Dining out 81%

  • Going to church 75%

  • Working out at the gym 67%

  • Going to the beach or lake 62%

  • Going to the movies 59%

There are gender differences in what brings joy

  • Men more likely to say Going to the movies (67% vs. 53%)

  • Women more likely to say Getting a spa treatment (50% vs. 37%)


The top 5 of 17 categories that consumers will “do first” is largely the same with one important difference - there is huge pent up demand for hair salons, moving up to third place of things consumers want to do first

Among those that can no longer participate in /are doing less often:

  • Dining out 86%

  • Going to church 77%

  • Get hair done (cut, color, highlights, etc.) 71% Top 5 for women AND men!

  • Working out at the gym 67%

  • Going to the movies 59%


(see chart below) When conceptualizing this complex path forward, we must contemplate multiple consumer variables simultaneously, not one at a time as most research does. The visual below shows the intersection between three key consumer dimensions - behaviors, joy and anticipation. The horizontal axis defines #BehaviorChange or the percent of consumers that say they are doing that activity less or have stopped doing it altogether. The vertical axis defines #EmotionalJoy - the activities that bring consumers the most joy. The size of the bubbles represents #Anticipation of the activities that consumers want to do first. The intersection of the three variables paints a picture of what the recovery may look like.


There is light at the end of the tunnel. No matter your industry's placement on the map, opportunities will exist. Leaders must understand the consumers that will be their "early re-entry" consumers, similar to early adopters in typical innovation curves. We will be introducing the #CovidReEntryCurve in our next blog.

True, there will be limited dollars when we are released from the lockdown, but there will also be pent up demand from loyal and new customers. Who they are, what they will need from us, how to market to them may be different. What will the role be for innovation. Businesses that can look forward to the “consumer re-entry” will emerge ahead of the pack on the other side.

Click here to learn more about this thought provoking initiative "Gearing Up For The Consumer Re-entry & The The Journey Back to Joy"

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