Editor’s note: Christina Liao is vice president of NPD and innovation at SKIM, an international research firm. Liao is based in Atlanta.

In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, habitual behaviors have been harshly disrupted, leaving us struggling to adjust, adapt and weigh decisions that were previously unimaginable. As we reluctantly settle into a new normal, social distancing has transformed homes into workplaces, schools, 24/7 foodservice operations and entertainment hubs. During this upheaval, new habits are taking hold.

For many businesses, the very idea of innovation – the great disruptor – has been disrupted. Innovation is forward-looking and growth-minded. It’s where companies bring forth new ideas, new concepts, new features and new benefits. The goal of innovation, now more than ever, is to create emotional resonance through new products and ideas. Innovation must address the here and now, as well as anticipate the post-COVID-19 reality.

What new product ideas or concepts can guide or influence new habits and decision-making after COVID-19 passes? How can you adapt your innovation strategy to thrive in the new normal?

No matter the context (crisis or normalcy), individual decision-making can be understood by examining the role of context and perception. These two elements play critical roles in the ultimate decision. Context refers to general market conditions, as well as individual frame of reference and need states. Perception includes the perceived emotional resonance and functional relevance of a given product or idea. Decision refers to trial, usage, purchase, repeat purchase, etc.

The habitual-deliberate decision loop pictured below provides a framework for companies to understand decision behavior and help guide business strategies, such as innovation, accordingly. COVID-19 dramatically changed the context of decision-making. The global crisis triggered a disruption in habit...