The Role of Wellness in Post COVID Consumer Experiences

A framework for creating trust and evaluating experience design.

Many of our clients are grappling with questions about what kind of behaviors we can expect consumers to exhibit as the pandemic abates, what kinds of new experiences will they desire, and how will these be different from before the virus?   The challenge for all brands regardless of industry will be how to understand and take advantage of consumers’ transformed desires in order to react and provide enhanced or improved innovations in customer experience.   One inarguable change will be the importance of delivering on the idea of wellness as part future experiences.

The concept of wellness will be  one of the major pillars in the delivery of future of  smart, connected, and autonomous types of experiences. As we automate more, as we connect more, these experiences have to enable wellness, help consumers boost efficiency, and they have to deliver safety. As people go out into the world and have more public and group experiences how can they be safe? How can they be increasingly personalized and help us create new knowledge and understanding of the world around us and ultimately enable wellness?

We have synthesized years of consumer research we have conducted to understand the drivers of trust and how consumers perceive dimensions of cleanliness to create a formative framework for evaluating and creating post COVID experiences.

A Framework for Clean Experiences

This framework first connects to the emotional elements that people seek. How do people want to feel now in a post COVID world?  Then how do we connect that emotion to the sensory cues that will deliver an interactive experience that looks, feels, speaks, and acts in meaningful ways that connect features and benefits to the way people ultimately want to feel.

At the center of this model is SAFE:  how do we help people feel safe, in control, and healthy?   We can do that by helping consumers detect problems, prevent problems, and ultimately protect them as they go out into the world creating Clean, Contactless and Crowdless experiences.

Clean Experiences

There are three foundation pillars involved in helping consumers return to away from home experiences in a full capacity:

  • regaining control
  • establishing trust
  • signaling and delivering cleanliness

How do families regain trust with schools and childcare environments?   How do we get consumers to ride public transit again to attend  sporting events or entertainment venues?  How do we help people feel safe coming back to work?  The experiences will have to  deliver on the emotional outcomes of clean and trusted. The foundational element required is the idea of clean enablement.

Looking at all the research we’ve done in the last 10 to 15 years on what clean means to people and how to deliver the core elements of a clean experience, we’ve established three simple, consistent and repeatable themes to apply to post-COVID product and service innovation.   Products need to be easy to clean, show or tell me they are clean, stay clean or clean for me.   In the context of services, there must be clear signals and sensory cues that the environment is clean and communicate that protocols are in place to keep it that way.

People are now increasingly aware that when they transition items from one place to another, they may not be staying clean and this is changing how people perceive their vehicles.  The vehicle has become as safe, protected zone, shielding you against the world.   As a result, automakers are changing the materials used in vehicles moving from complex surfaces that are difficult to clean to smoother textures and new antiviral materials that clean themselves to provide this sense of control and protection.  Future sensors will detect when cabin air needs to be refreshed and clean it for the driver.

We see this concept in play in the housing industry as well.   There’s a lot of opportunity now being created not only within existing homes, but also within smart homes and smart homes of the future. Smart technology is going to help us measure how clean our environments are self-cleaning textiles, surfaces, and devices that are going to help you maintain that control making us feel that much more safe, relaxed and healthy.

The Digital Side of Clean Experiences

Across industries, we are seeing an increased hybridization of experiences, increasingly digital, increasingly fluid and connected between the digital and physical.  UX designers have a great opportunity to leverage digital opportunities to create consumer trust by signaling how a product or service is working to detect, prevent and protect them from un-safe situations.

This hybridization of traditional physical models being experienced in more digital ways also offers the ability to become even more personal in building that trusted relationship. When you think about things like the claims experience with your insurance, or you think about how people shop for vehicles there will be an increasing fluidity of connectedness between the elements

Over the course of the pandemic, we’ve helped clients in automotive, transportation, education and consumer goods leverage this model to develop and design sensory cues into the consumer’s journey  that will signal clean and engender trust away from home experiences.

This is just an example of, for example, of a high level journey model for childcare, where we can begin to understand how our parents, children and staff are moving through the experience and identify how  the experience needs to look, feel, speak, and act to deliver on a safe, trusted well experience through the lens of what we understand about clean, contactless and crowdedness experiences.

We see wellness continuing to take center stage in these increasingly fluid environment and hybridization experiences , and the importance of delivering clean experiences that engender consumer trust will stay relevant long after we’re all able to emerge again from the pandemic.   Download our Clean Model here as reference in your planning for future clean, safe and trusted experiences.