thought leadership

The Lockdown Diaries: Little Lifts

It’s important to recognise the emotional turmoil that has been caused by COVID-19 and by lockdown living. The emotional response to the crisis is not homogenous and is not fixed. People are responding in different ways depending on their individual circumstances.

YouGov’s weekly mood tracker shows that levels of boredom and frustration are still elevated and are continuing to rise as the lockdown continues to curtail people’s daily lives. Those aged 18-24 are reporting feeling more bored and frustrated than older age groups. This presents an interesting opportunity for brands if they are able to identify the different need states of their audiences and adapt their comms in a relevant and sensitive way. Below, we explore key findings on how people are feeling, and the activities and behaviours that they’re engaging in to keep their morale up. In addition to these findings, we discuss what opportunities this might present for your brand.

Ipsos Mori have found that people of all ages are finding it harder to do usual tasks such as doing their work or looking after their children. Despite this, 52% of people have identified staying positive as their main priority over the next month. Introducing ‘little lifts’ into people’s lockdown lifestyles helps them to cope better during lockdown and to pass time. (Source: Ipsos Mori, March 2020, Global Web Index, Office for National Statistics).

These lifts can be grouped into 8 key ‘needs-states’; comfort, connection, entertain, reward, flourish, support, celebrate and productivity. These states not only help people stay positive, but also offer opportunities for brands.

Increasingly people are expecting brands to help them with these little lifts. 65% of Channel 4’s audience agree that brands should be offering light relief through advertising, such as Kevin the Carrot’s appearances at the end of the Aldi ads. People are also seeking positive and uplifting content beyond advertising. DAX listening figures have reported a 19% increase in demand for comedy podcasts. The nation’s support for Captain Tom, Oprah and Jamie Oliver cooking together and Tom Hardy bringing children their bedtime stories also reflects this. In fact, 43% of people say that they see keeping themselves entertained as a personal priority for the next month. Binge-watching TV and gaming are offering consumers the desired escapism. By 5th April streaming hours on Twitch had increased by 9% compared with the previous week and now averages 49.9 million hours each day. (Source: Channel 4, April 2020, Global Web Index, Foresight Factory)

People’s social media content is also reflecting the change in things people want to see and surround themselves with; Kantar analysed 8700 Instagram posts, tracking hashtags including #quarantine, #selfisolation and #selfquarantine. They found 6 key themes in these images, ranging from nature and sofa snuggles to creativity, craft and the new lockdown essentials. (Kantar, March 2020)

As people seek comfort and routine, mealtimes have emerged as becoming more important. People are indulging in longer and bigger meals as a bonding experience and a source of entertainment. In some cases, they include utilising leftovers or using up some of the food that was brought for stockpiling. Home cooking is also helping parents to feel that they are doing their best to care for and nurture their children when normal nurturing and caring routines are missing.

Beyond longer mealtimes, 32% of people are now spending more time on hobbies and pastimes – up 24% from two weeks earlier. This offers brands a brilliant new opportunity. Citreo have highlighted the categories in the UK that are seeing a new boom in sales. These include outdoor furniture, webcams, pet supplies, shaving / grooming equipment and baking items. 26% of adults have spent more time on traditional pastimes such as knitting and playing boardgames since the start of lockdown. Toys, boardgames and puzzle sales have increased by 240% with the biggest selling games being classics such as Monopoly, Cluedo and Scrabble. Jigsaw companies are seeing increased sales of over 150% with larger puzzles and more challenging Lego builds doing particularly well. Beyond households, creators are adapting to help people connect during lockdown. Concerts, meditations and West End shows are all moving online to bring people entertainment and comfort. Virtual pub quizzes are springing up all across the country, with one set up by Jay Flynn in Lancashire saw 300,000 participants in its first week. The quiz has so far raised £93,000 for the NHS. (Source: Mintel, Google Trends NPD, Facebook, 2020,

Our Real World Britain panel have shown that self-care and relaxation are more important in these stressful times. Searches for colouring-in books for adults have increased since mid-March, and many are having baths, meditating and burning candles to help them relax.

What opportunities do these behaviours offer your brand?

  • Brands need to determine their audience’s need-states
  • Brands need to work out their own distinctive take on the need-states
  • Find a positivity partner – which entertainment brands are in a prime position to offer little lifts and positivity?

Get your content found – ensure you are connecting your communications system and make sure your SEO strategy is responsive to changing needs and queries.

You can access the full report here.

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