When the Great Recession hit the U.S. in 2009, companies across industries came to a harsh realization. Years of researching, maneuvering, marketing, and investing to create the perfect customer products and services suddenly fell flat. The economy dramatically shifted consumer habits, with many focused on reducing spending amid the uncertainty of the economy, and a loss of trust in many institutions. Brands found that—almost overnight—they no longer knew their former customers as well as they previously thought. Technically, they’d never met. It was a difficult thing for companies to accept. Imagine if a lifelong friend who you cultivated a loyal, mutually valuable relationship with transformed into a different person with new interests, habits, and trends. The shift can be seismic, as we’re seeing right now, and companies that don’t move quickly may fall behind–especially if the shift takes place at a time when retaining loyal customers is more important than ever. Similar to the recession in 2009, customer needs and preferences are evolving at light speed as customers grapple with the impacts of the current situation. Read more at Fast Company.