thought leadership

The Lockdown Diaries: 5 key trends

In this Lockdown Diaries, we are looking at 5 key trends across social distancing, virtual connections, making society better, financial fears and little lifts.

At MediaCom we launched the Lockdown Diaries to reflect week-to-week on the rapid pivots and behavioural changes we were witnessing.  As social distancing guidelines have been relaxed at a broad level over the last few weeks, we reflect on the key behaviours that look likely to continue in this post lockdown landscape.

SOCIAL DISTANCING

Fear of Missing Out vs Fear of Going Out

As lockdown is lifting, FOMO has returned, and younger audiences are particularly impacted by this since they are missing out on key life stage moments and physical (rather than virtual) social connection. On the other hand, Fear of Going Out is more prevalent now than in the middle of lockdown, in part because the onus of risk assessment and decision making is now on the public and communications and guidelines have become more complex and nuanced. FOMO and FOGO will continue to co-exist as the virus rises and falls.

Questions to ask:

  1. Reassurance is key: How do you signal reassurance for your category, especially if it is a category which was put on hold during lockdown and is now opening up again?
  2. One size doesn’t fit all: How can you be nuanced in how you speak to different audience groups?
  3. Agility is key: as the rules change, how can your plans reflect the changing landscape and changing audience attitudes and behaviours in an agile way?

VIRTUAL CONNECTIONS

The Zoom Boom vs Zoom Fatigue

One of the biggest shifts in consumer behaviour as a result of lockdown has been the uptake of video calling and virtual social connections. The Houseparty app jumped from 130k to 2M downloads in one week, Zoom went from 10m daily users to 300m at its peak and are predicting a revenue boost of 200%. But Zoom fatigue has also emerged. Endless video calls could be having an impact on our tiredness and energy levels as virtual interactions can be very taxing on the brain.

Questions to ask:

  1. The importance of in the moment experience –How can you facilitate these shared moments and add ‘extra’ where people are still missing out?
  2. Big reconnection moments –For example this will be a Xmas period like no other, how will you be appealing to people in the reconnection phase, especially if it is only for a limited time in certain areas?
  3. Super powered virtual connections–There will be an inevitable dip after lockdown, but it’s likely that there will still be an appetite for more immersive connections with our friends and family. How can your brands support this?

MAKE SOCIETY BETTER

Reappraising the Future vs Compassion Fatigue

At a time of crisis, we pivoted to help others. Gratitude is still pouring out to key workers and people continue to help their communities. Brands also still have an important role to play in this crisis as  74% of people say that they want to hear from brands who are being helpful in the time of Covid-19 and making a positive impact on society.

In addition, community spirit is starting to give way to compassion fatigue. Research from the University of Kent suggests that people’s capacity for giving is on the decline:

“Many people gave money to help vulnerable fellow citizens. But the level of support is falling. As the numbers of cases declined from April onwards, so did the income from the appeals. Official statistics show that, although the pandemic is in retreat, the number of benefit claimants continues to rise…Pandemic is widely seen as a common threat. Will people be as generous when we move into recession and very high unemployment? The indications of compassion fatigue are disturbing.” (https://www.kent.ac.uk/news/covid19/25823/are-food-banks-facing-compassion-fatigue)

Questions to ask:

  1. How are you continuing support as lockdown lifts? People’s expectations of brands who have stepped up during this time will rise.  How will you be continuing to support communities in the future?
  2. Identity your audiences’ changing needs. How can you get closer to your audience through bespoke research and analysing signals about your audience behaviours?
  3. What positive changes from the crisis can your brand take forward? What positive trends and opportunities exist now to lean into?

FINANCIAL FEARS

Threat is Looming vs Cautiously Optimistic

People are more concerned about the financial impact of COVID than Brexit. A Nationwide Building Society survey suggests two thirds (65%) think the pandemic is more concerning for their personal finances, while just a fifth (21%) believe Brexit is the bigger threat. 69% of people think that the economy is going to get worse in the next 12 months. The last time pessimism was this low was in November 2008 (at its worst during the 2008 crisis 75% thought the economy would get worse).

But impact is not one size fits all. The impact of the virus on finance is different by age group, as well as socio-economic groups. For example, 54% of 65+ say COVID has had no impact on finances, vs only 22% of families and 29% of 18-35s.

Questions to ask:

  1. Continue to reassure – How do we continue to signal reassurance and stimulate demand?
  2. How do we prepare for further drops in ‘consumer confidence? If job losses and income reductions continue post end of furlough then there will be implications for big discretionary purchases of all types.
  3. The importance of value– with spending likely to be highly squeezed how can we offer sustained and continued value?

LITTLE LIFTS

Rising Anxiety vs Curated Positivity

Prior to the coronavirus crisis, happiness was consistently the most common emotion Brits felt on any given week, with an average of 50% reporting it since YouGov started tracking the topic in the summer of 2019.  By March 23rd, happiness had plummeted to 25%.  Since that point happiness has been slowly rising again. But anxiety still bubbles under for many. 6 in 10 people are feeling less positive about the future than they were before lockdown.

Questions to ask:

  1. What is your distinctive take on the need states? ‘Little Lifts’ is a territory that is going to be very popular with brands over the next few months.  What’s your distinctive angle on this?
  2. What are your audience need-states?  The most important need states will change across audience and category.  How can you better understand your audience needs and how they are flexing?
  3. Can you find a positivity partner? entertainment brands are in a prime position to offer little lifts and positivity.  Which brands can you partner with to amplify your positivity?

To read more about these trends via the full report, click here.

Next
Spotlight Series – Rob Hattrell, VP at eBay UK
Previous
Why we’re exploring Agile working at MediaCom