With the pandemic rapidly changing the lifestyles of Americans, companies in all consumer categories are trying to determine post-pandemic behavior through primary consumer research, which we refer to as “projective exercises”. In essence, the methodology simply asks consumers how their behavior and lifestyle will change post pandemic once the country gets back to a sense of normalcy.
While this type of research can often be directionally correct, it generally is less effective in quantifying degrees of change. Research conducted on post traumatic events (like 9/11 and the Great Recession) was woefully inaccurate as consumers generally did not adopt the behavior or the lifestyle changes they stated they would.
For example, six months after 9/11, many polls and surveys claimed that people were going to flee large cities to the suburbs and would never work or live in a building over 20 stories high. By the mid to late 2000s, cities across America were booming along with a surge in the construction of super high-rise buildings.
The issue is that most people have difficulty projecting themselves into a variable future as they are attempting to do so with their current attitude and feelings. Many people even admit they have difficulty projecting into the future. According to our research, nearly half claim that is the case for themselves. As time progresses, people begin to adjust, forget, and move back to much of their pre-traumatic event behavior and lifestyle. Projective research can prove more effective in determining degrees of change when appended to other data sources like historic behavior, lifestyle characteristics, and social constructs.