CLEs Hesitant about Reopening

May 20, 2020

Communities are starting to re-open.  How do CLE feel about that?

We learned last week that consumers are not at all comfortable with the re-opening process. The majority of people (70%) said that even if the activities they love were re-opened, they don’t intend on participating. This made us wonder – what will make them comfortable? What cues or triggers should we implement or look for to be able to predict when people will be ready to resume their activities?

We dug deeper into this topic this week and learned that the primary fear of all re-opening is present because of all the subconscious cues we are taking in that tell us that the safety of people is not the most important motivator for the re-opening. To make people feel safer we need to ensure all messaging focuses on people first.



Three major themes drive hesitancy:

  • Too many people not following the “rules:” What has changed that makes this activity safe today when it wasn’t safe yesterday?
  • Lack of agreement between governing bodies: We need to see agreement between different media and government bodies about what makes us safe. The presence of disagreement on points of view or politics, is expected, but disagreement on safety creates / keeps fears high, and causes inaction.
  • Money over safety: The more articles that run where there is a clear focus on re-opening in order to improve the financial situation of businesses or the economy, the more fear and doubt is created. Whenever the focus is taken off the people, a subconscious cue is received that people are less important than anything else.

Why are we willing or unwilling to do specific activities?

The primary reason we are afraid of specific activities is the now strong connection in our brains that crowds of people equals virus transmission. For several months now we have been ingrained with the idea that if you are close to other people (6-foot rule) then you might get the virus. If you go to places with crowds (crowded beaches) you might get the virus. Because of this now fully ingrained connection in our brains, we are evaluating each situation to see how “dangerous” it may be. The more people the less safe. The closer the people, the less safe. Therefore when we visualize what the experience will be like, we make a safety call based on that vision.

NAPA, CA – MAY 24: A waiter pours champagne for customers dining on the patio of Angele Restaurant and Bar on Sunday, May 24, 2020, in Napa, Calif. (Aric Crabb/Bay Area News Group)

As marketers we can make people feel safer, but not just explaining what we are

doing, but actually showing it visually. We need to show how the experience will be new and different, because people have never been in a restaurant with spaced seating, so we need to show them that experience, because they have no point of reference for it.

What You Can Do

Focus on People

Make sure your messaging and positioning statements are people centric. This is their primary concern right now, and will build positive connections with your brand


Help them visualize a new world.

People have never been in a post covid world, they don’t have any way to imagine what the new normal will look like.

Don’t just talk about it. Create it and show it to them.