Reverse-culture-shock (1)

As communities reopen for business, brands need to be ready to accommodate the reverse culture shock that consumers are feeling. Many may not even know this is what they’re experiencing, so capturing and closely monitoring consumer experience will be crucial. And those that do will find success, while others continue to flounder.


We are sharing insight here that brands need to bolster their reopening efforts, including:

  • Understanding what reverse culture shock is and how to accommodate it.
  • Using social listening and contextualized trend analysis for consumer insight and strategy development to meet consumers’ needs.
  • Examining the ins and outs of consumer experience monitoring.

And our exploration has uncovered some spending data that brands will want to keep in mind as consumers brace for reopening:

  • Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) are down 6.8% in Q1 of 2020 over last quarter of 2019 reflecting reduced spending during the outset of the global pandemic.
  • S. consumer spending fell by 13.6% in April alone.
  • Despite job losses, incomes are up 10.5% in April reflective of U.S. stimulus and unemployment measures.

Understandably, consumers are being very cautious with their spending. And that trend may continue as deadlines in federal stimulus measures supporting unemployment are set to expire in July.

As lockdown measures ease around the country, consumers will cautiously head out again . . . very tentatively. Let’s explore what reverse culture shock is to give a better overview of this landscape.


Understanding Reverse Culture Shock

Culture shock as a concept is widely accepted and understood. However, reverse culture shock is quite the opposite. So, what is it exactly and why is it important to brands?

In general terms, it refers to the experience of reintroduction to one’s home country after an extended time immersed abroad. The U.S. Department of State succinctly defines it as, “the psychological, emotional and cultural aspects of reentry.”

Reverse culture shock has four distinct phases experienced upon reentry. They are Crisis, Recovery, Adjustment and Honeymoon. Many are leaving the honeymoon phase of lock down where they had adjusted and accepted the situation. As communities reopen, people will enter into the crisis stage, as they increasingly interact with altered attitudes and values face-to-face.

And rapid changes to cultural norms, lifestyle and means over the last few months may produce behaviors associated with reverse culture shock in these consumers as they emerge from isolation. Changes they won’t even understand, at least not at first.

Often those returning to familiarity after extended separation experience feelings of discontent or disorientation at how things have changed in their absence. And a lot has changed in the economy since we locked down in mid-March. You can see the uncertainties born out in the word cloud below.


Brands must monitor the social mood as consumers emerge into a new version of their old day-to-day routines. As consumer anxiety plays out, smart brands will be out front with answers to ease them into the recovery phase. Those that do will be rewarded with customer loyalty – and what a reward it is:


Meeting Consumers Where They Are with Digital Consumer Intelligence

People have a lot of anxiety right now and what they need most is safety, certainty and clarity. When brands can swoop in and provide those feelings in their engagements or products it becomes one area that the customer can be confident in. And they’ll be much more likely to return because of it.

As you can see below, a NetBase Quid analysis of the social mood spectrum in NetBase AI Studio shows anticipation as the top consumer emotion followed by disgust, joy and trust.


Consumers are excited to get back out again, but they want to make sure the businesses they interact with are working hard to keep them safe.

Cleanliness and social distancing measures will continue to be of utmost importance. Customers have grown accustomed to curbside pickup and free/low-cost delivery and will continue to expect it as they will still be hesitant to physically interact if they don’t have to.

Not only are consumers concerned about hygiene, they are value-focused as well. They’ve had a lot of time on their hands over the last few months to reassess their needs and comparison shop, since every dollar counts.

Therefore, it’s up to smart brands to prioritize the customer experience like never before and make it sticky – especially when the competition is a click away.

Prioritizing Customer Experience

Interestingly, customer experience narratives are taking up the 1st and 3rd spots in the reopening conversation.


And this is where the true power of next generation artificial intelligence (AI)-powered social analytics is evident. It helps brands stay a step ahead of consumer need and understand very nuanced conversations in real-time. We can see that it has never been more important to flood social media with info around safety measures and initiatives that you’ve put in place to give consumers peace of mind. Because if they don’t see it, it didn’t happen. Be sure to show them what you’re doing.

This will reinforce that sense of safety, clarity and certainty that they’re looking for. And they’ll share the love online for your brand because of it!
Top brands are leaning in hard to hear consumer sentiment and meet them at the place of need and you should too. Armed with industry the most accurate and transparent social media analytics, they’re able to tailor their messaging and offerings such as discounts, promotions and other incentives to win consumer loyalty. They’re messaging all of that out on the right channels, to the right audience and in the right way – and that is made possible by expert consumer experience understanding.


Capturing and Monitoring Consumer Experience 

Staying ahead of the conversation and creating an innovative brand strategy will rely heavily on a smart consumer experience analysis, of course. Brands will have to move quickly, as consumers are heavily focused on reopening and all it entails as evidenced below.


And as routines change . . . purchasing patterns are poised to shift also. We took the above Network Map in the Quid product and regrouped it with relevant tags where you can see that conversations surrounding commerce comprise a whopping 35% of the reopening conversation since May 1st to the present. This makes sense as consumers are so guarded with their finances right now:


And the following graphic shows that the conversational trend is growing as communities continue through their phases of reopening. (Note that the short bars are weekends.)


This is certainly a morphing conversation that brands need to be watching to monitor shortcomings and gain consumer trust.

And NetBase Quid offers the digital consumer intelligence tools that top brands use to develop their laser-focused customer experience strategies. By mining all sources of customer feedback, NetBase Quid delivers accurate and relevant insights, so your action plan targets specific areas of need – which is super important right now, as consumers have a lot of expectations going forward. Many more than they had before, that’s for sure!

Uncovering business trends helps keep your brand on the forefront of innovation, after all. And visualized data offers unparalleled visibility into industry, brand coverage and insights so you’re positioned to explore new areas of opportunity. Game changing? Yes!

Make sure that your brand is in the right place at the right time as consumers emerge and seek comfort in brands they can trust. And be sure to reach out for a demo and we’ll show you how!


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