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MAi Research Uncovers What Consumers Want to See Open, and What They Are Willing to Participate in as We Reopen America

In MAi Research's most recent wave of COVID-19 research, we saw a significant decrease in agreement with government across all types of regulations currently in place. It appears that while most people still agree with these measures, attitudes are beginning to change. People want a well thought-out plan with clarity, but they will tread cautiously as we enter the next phase of the pandemic and our recovery.

MAi Research Uncovers What Consumers Want to See Open, and What They Are Willing to Participate in as We Reopen America
Charleston, SC, April 24, 2020 --( Since early March, MAi Research has been conducting a tracking study to understand people’s reactions to the coronavirus outbreak, delivering insights to consumers and businesses. MAi has been exploring the emotional side of the crisis, and with recent increasing pressure to “reopen America,” the research has shifted toward understanding attitudes and emotions around this idea.

With a pre-defined, near-term window, MAi found that more people see some specific types of services and experiences as important to be reopened. Among the most important are:

Going to a routine doctor or dentist appointment.
Returning to work at their place of employment.
Exercising outdoors in public spaces.

MAi also asked people how comfortable they would feel for themselves or someone they cared about to engage in these activities in the same time frame. Among the activities people felt most comfortable participating in are:

Going to a routine doctor or dentist appointment.
Exercising outdoors in public spaces.

At or near the bottom of the list in terms of peoples' comfort are:

In-person entertainment in small and large venues
Traveling by air
Using Lyft/Uber/Taxis
Exercising at indoor gyms
Staying in hotels

Even for activities where people felt more comfortable participating, less than half rated their comfort as somewhat or very comfortable, indicating some likeliness of a slower recovery to "normal" life.

MAi also found that different demographic groups demonstrated different levels of openness/comfort with reopening – some of which might be surprising.


Women showed higher levels of comfort than men across most factors.
People in the Northeast showed many areas of lower comfort and importance than was seen in other regions.
People aged 25-44 had higher comfort than those older and younger.
People with higher incomes (over $75k/year) had higher comfort than those with lower incomes.

Interesting side note: The highest income respondents had higher rates of agreement with it being important for the nation to open up for multiple factors... but were less comfortable with personal engagement than those with lower incomes.

What this means for businesses:

MAi's given a very high level, initial look at how people feel about relaxing precautions in the near future. As has been demonstrated, there is much reluctance to re-engage in the public sphere – even as people begin to question restrictions that have been imposed.

MAi's guidance:

Proceed with caution: expect slow behavioral change back to personal public engagement.
Keep pace with consumers’ changing behaviors. Structure marketing and communications programs to focus on gaining both incremental online business and competitive market share.
As certain state governments have indicated they will be opening sooner, use a “test and learn” approach to gain quick insights from these markets to apply to those who are more cautious about reopening.
Identify ways to demonstrate empathy, as discussed previously, especially if you’re dealing with a targeted demographic that is less comfortable with re-engaging.

MAi will be continuing to explore these themes and more in future releases as well.

Please reach out if you would like to discuss ways that MAi/Pathfinder Analytics can help you navigate through these next stages into a post-corona world.
Contact Information
MAi Research
Robert Clark, Executive Vice President

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