The American Innovation Index

Innovation Leads to Company Success in the Pandemic

The economic and social disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic was unprecedented in modern times impacting every business and the customers they serve.  The pandemic immediately affected consumers’ everyday lives, including how they shopped for and purchased products and services, ultimately having a negative impact on the economy. It is estimated the pandemic cost 400 million full-time jobs globally in the second quarter of 2020[1], and in the U.S., the GDP dropped by 32.9%, the biggest decline since the records began in 1947[2].

Since consumers were forced to change their buying patterns, companies had two options: succumb or innovate. Many companies stepped up to the challenge and quickly put strategies in place to adapt their product or service offerings given the circumstances. Other companies had a difficult time adjusting to the new needs of their customers in a pandemic and suffered for it. In early 2020, Rockbridge Associates conducted the 3rd annual American Innovation Index (Aii) survey, which scores and ranks the innovativeness of U.S. companies based on their customers’ experiences.  As part of this year’s initiative, the survey measured companies’ response to the Covid-19 pandemic including how well they met their customers’ expectations in being innovative and responsive to their needs during this time.

The most innovative companies during the pandemic come from a variety of industries, including auto/property insurance, automotive, supermarkets, quick serve restaurants and health insurance.  USAA took the top spot as the company with the most innovative response followed by American Family Insurance, Ford, Chick-fil-a, and Kaiser Permanente. In contrast, companies in the airline, telecommunication, and lending industries fell short of customers’ expectations in their Covid-19 response. Companies that won on innovation during the pandemic shared a common theme—they acted fast to address their customers’ needs.  USAA offered unprecedented financial assistance quickly to members facing financial burden, Chick-fil-a restructured its drive through and immediately redesigned its app to make mobile ordering and curbside pick-up seamless, Ford redesigned its assembly line to produce PPE and ventilators using auto materials, and Kaiser Permanente jumped to the forefront in Covid-19 research, immediately employed mitigation strategies at its centers, and used its industry leading digital technologies to manage patient communications.

The pandemic shook the world, but some businesses were able to respond better than others.  Companies that had fostered a culture of innovation in their businesses were able to tap into it when the most extraordinary event of our times occurred. They came out on top in the eyes of their customers, while others fell behind.  A focus on innovation that is recognized by your customers can propel your business forward in the future as the next challenge occurs.

If you would like to learn more about how Rockbridge can help your business measure customer innovation and identify opportunities to improve your innovativeness, reach out to Joe Taliuaga, Director of Client Development,