Reimagine the Restart Part 3: What COVID means for society and consumer behavior moving forward

Our most basic need is to have a sense of belonging and connection. It is unclear when society will get that back.

As we continue to be isolated, we are seeing the push to integrate digital technology and human experiences. Meanwhile, the organization and community ecosystems are breaking down as our values are being challenged.

Society and culture will be permanently impacted by this transformative shift. Looking ahead ninety days, these are

Five predictions in which we see consumer behavior going:

1. The world is shrinking and local is the new global.

Despite the fact that small businesses are a significant portion of the economy, and that ‘buy and choose’ local campaigns have been a mantra of downtown improvement corporations for decades, it has taken a global pandemic to convince consumers that buying local is important.

Whether it be the restrictions on domestic and international travel, or the stay-at-home orders, or simply the extra time spent searching for the next take-out dinner order on Facebook, consumers are proving during this time that the businesses that they wish to support are, by and large, private companies.

In this pandemic, it becomes very clear where the pain is locally and it is much more difficult to see when it is not. This is the further rise of the Human-Centric Era.

The truth is today, people care a lot more about the neighborhood restaurant than they do about the cheesecake factory.

People care more intensely for their friend’s knitting business than they do about supporting Wal-Mart.

People want to make sure that their neighborhood bar is taken care of and they will give up many of the conveniences of mass production for the quality of home. Having a connection to your customer fosters loyalty for the long-term.

2. The companies that win 2020 will be awarded fiercely loyal customers.

By December, the companies that have taken a human and rapidly changing approach during this pandemic will be the ones with annual growth and profit. It is no surprise that during this pandemic, more and more consumers are choosing to shop around.

Almost 2/3 of consumers today say that they not only are interested in, but are actively trialing competitive products and services. Of those, almost half expect to continue using the new product. The company’s that are winning this business are not the companies finding comfort in the status quo.

Over the past ten weeks of helping companies implement an empathic customer approach to rapid change, we’ve seen new product launches get released in record time, P&L’s diversify, and MRR increases.

One specific company in the tech space 10x a new product line revenue in a span of six weeks and now has a more sustainable company and more predictable revenue curve.

The companies that are winning this business, are the companies that are thinking two steps ahead of their customers and laying out the red carpet day in and day out, which is why these leaders will not only have increased market share but the customers that they have gained will be on board for the long-term.

3. Those that think on behalf of their customers first will seize the day.

There’s a phrase in writing that I always love to reference, “Kill your darlings.” Kill your darlings was coined long ago in a land far far away as a phrase used to describe a concept loved so deeply by the author, that the only solution was to take the entire concept out back and shoot it dead.

Think about what your experience has been as a consumer over the last several weeks. Are you searching for the same things as you were six months ago? What specific things are you no longer buying? I suspect that in many ways there are already ideas fluttering through your head of the differences today versus several months ago.

This brings about the $64,000 question: knowing that your needs are different today than they were several months ago, how may your offering to customers need to change? What other products or services could you be selling that you are not currently capitalizing on based on these new found needs?

This, my friend, is the opportunity.

As we’ve been discussing in my limited series show, Reimagine the Restart, when trust with companies exist, consumer relationships are easier and more profitable.

Society is placing your trust in companies and people who are rapidly adapting to their needs as they change rather than continuing to push the same products as if the needs remain the same.

4. Volatility will be consistent and unexpected.

Expect a W curve in relation to your customer engagement. On our show last week with Fortune 50 consultant and friend, Pamit Surana, he outlined a few versions of this scenario planning. What we are seeing play out is that the volatility in the marketplace is going to be dictated by three things.

First, and most important government action or in-action. The way in which the government introduces legislation, lifts or ad restrictions, will determine the pace and the significance of the volatility that occurs.

Second, the truth of the deadliness of this virus will also contribute to the unpredictable nature of the volatility, which is information that will only come to light once we have adequate testing and ample ability to contact trace throughout the entire country.

Specifically, this means that we will have to increase our ability to test by almost 50-fold per day and implement a system nationwide to contact trace fully any case that arises, which has already been attempted and failed three times.

Third, it will be dictated by the level of confidence consumers have to continue the economy. Until consumers can feel reasonably safe exiting their home and doing business in the world, volatility will continue and will ebb and flow.

5. Rapid change will win raving fans.

Forget the 80/20 rule and move forward with 50/50. In the state of volatility that we are all experiencing, there is no room for perfection. Even further, go with 20/80 an adjust constantly.

Every digital experience is still a human experience. As you rapidly change to virtual environments, your sales conversions will be dependent on your ability to maintain the human connection and trust that leads to close rates.

Facetime, phone calls and casual conversation with customers acknowledging the trust of their existence — that the human race is having an existential crisis — is real and will lend for to them buying from you.

This is where I see most companies fall short on their great ideas. Establish a cadence of review with your customers and organization which matches the pace of change of your customer base and the environment. Lag and you’ll be too late.

Overcommunicate, overcommunicate, overcommunicate. You don’t want to leave any moment of the customer questioning where you went or if they got ghosted.

​​Rarely has anyone ever convicted of “overcommunicating”.
Double down on referrals, now more than ever, when you can’t build relationships from scratch. Leverage the ones you have to advocate for you.

Change at the pace of your customers, over-communicate, overdeliver value, and you will have customers for generations to come. They will remember how you treated them now.

When people say there is an opportunity in crisis, this is what they are referring to. The opportunity is loyalty, repeat business, longevity, and more sustainable businesses,

Thank you being a part of this 3-Part conversation​​ on Reimagine the Restart,

Hilary Corna

Founder & CEO, Corna Partners

The next episode of Reimagine the Restart goes live today at 1:15 PM EST with Rachyl Neidecker, CEO of Wholesome Culture, e-Commerce company that is on fire under her leadership and strategy.

Pivot, diversify and hop on this fast-moving e-Commerce bandwagon, join us.

Hilary Corna


Hilary Corna

Bestselling Author, Keynote Speaker, Podcast Host, Founder of the Human Way ™...

Hilary’s favorite title is HUMAN.


I am starting a revolution. One business and one person at a time.



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