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Retreat & Rethink: New Consumers Priorities after Covid19

September 2020

By Claire Brooks, Los Angeles

Behavioral trends noted in our April GlobalCultureBlog® have intensified as the impacts of the pandemic are felt around the globe. In our latest blog we explore trends which will be here medium-term - and which we think will change human and consumer behavior long-term.

1.   Retreat from Consumerism

“The pandemic has been more positive than negative. I have appreciated how little you need to survive and be comfortable.” So says a participant in ModelPeople’s recent study on the experience of sheltering-in-place under covid-19. Many have learned the simple comforts of hobbies like pottery, gardening and baking to cope with stress or tight finances, and have realized they don’t miss typical consumption habits. At the same time the planet is reeling from the effects of man-made climate change and systemic social inequalities. Research suggests that more than half of consumers won’t return to pre-pandemic consumption habits, through caution or a desire to consume more purposefully. Brands which emphasize quality over quantity and can contribute to mindful consumption will benefit.

2.   Cultural Cocooning

Consumers tend to live in cultural bubbles but often seek to experience other cultures through travel, food, social contact: activities currently restricted by the pandemic. Now we have become wary of physical contact with strangers. At the same time, online has become ‘safe space’ (GlobalCultureBlog® April 2020) where we date, shop, have staff meetings and engage in activism, but also run the risk of being catfished, scammed, hacked or trolled. The danger is that we choose to remain cocooned in our tightened cultural bubbles - physically and digitally – losing trust in wider connections (even online), which will further polarize opinions, prevent diversity of engagement and hamper acceptance of new ideas. Corporations and brands which can find trusted ways for consumers to connect as human beings, find new ideas and build community and diversity will win.

3.   Ageing Well

“This pause in the busy rat race has forced me to start reflecting on things that need to be done to better equip myself to journey into the later part of life.” Many older people have felt especially fearful of coronavirus and have made lifestyle changes and invested heavily in preventive and fitness products and services to ensure they age as well as possible. Avoiding the mental health impacts of loneliness is also a concern for older singles according to our research. Brands that take the trouble to address the over 55s sensitively, speaking to wellness, resilience, taking control and staying in touch socially - rather than describing ageing as a time of encroaching chronic co-morbidities - will gain valuable new consumers. Authentic role models are key to inspire lifestyle changes: influencers are already more influential as older consumers spend more time online.

4.   Mental Health For All

In April we reported that consumers are making an important shift to value mental and physical health equally. Consumers are anxious, depressed and afraid, especially young adults and women bearing the brunt of juggling work, home-schooling and support for elderly relatives or neighbors. These mental health impacts will be slow to disappear. Brands which can show empathy for the upheaval in consumers’ life-worlds and demonstrate practical solutions will enhance brand equity and value in consumer experience, as will corporations who support the mental well-being of employees with programs, management training and culture change to remove the stigma of talking about mental health in the workplace.

Comforting crafts
Pandemic mental health

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