June 24, 2020
The Body Keeps the Score Series: Part One
As the UK emerges from lockdown, we have been reflecting on how its impact is likely to affect consumer attitudes and behaviour.
More than 100 days on from the life-changing events of Covid-19 we are seeing a new set of values, beliefs and behaviours take root and understanding these new mind-sets will be vital for brands to thrive in the future.
Our findings are based on accumulated observations and data, behavioural science and established social psychology. They are also based on the acceleration of trends we have been tracking over the past couple of years.
Today, we are sharing the building blocks that have created these new mind-sets including the psychological drivers and accelerated trends that are starting to take hold.
There is much debate about how long it takes us to form new habits. There is general consensus that on average, it’s about two months. We’ve all been in lockdown for three months so it’s safe to assume we’ve formed some new, enduring habits.
These range from shopping more online, to working from home, changes in diet, exercise, learning new skills, communicating with friends and family in new ways and managing our health.
Not all of them will stay with us, but the motivations and beliefs that underpin them will likely inform how we act, shop and think about brands for some time to come.
These new habits coupled with the new opportunities we’ve seen as a result of lockdown, will create new expectations.
Looking at trends, we know that we are witnessing a new collectivism, where a focus on thinking and acting together with others is starting to challenge the me-first established order.
Conversely, we are also seeing a greater desire for self-sufficiency with people learning a range of new skills and habits to make them feel more secure e.g. cooking, growing their own herbs and vegetables, making and repairing things and self-care.
There has been a growing shift from exercise for beauty or image, to a focus on resilience and balancing physical strength with mental strength and mindfulness.
Finally, and importantly, we are starting to realise that pleasure and new experiences are vital to our happiness and seeking it out and what makes us happy is far from frivolous.
These trends map against our personality type and what we call the human compass ie whether you are more externally or internally driven and whether you are more driven by thoughts or feelings. Most of us live somewhere in the middle of these human compass points but lockdown has heightened our experience and pushed some of us to extremes on these axes. True extroverts and introverts will have had markedly different experiences during lockdown and will have dramatically different needs coming out of it.
Looking at other drivers, the role of personal risk-appetite will be very important as we emerge from lockdown. Risk exists in three dimensions; financial, physical and social. Normally, when one is suppressed, we indulge the others. In this case, all three have been suppressed and this has led to two over-arching tendencies; to protect and invest in ourselves or to yearn for an opportunity for new experiences.
– Protecting and preserving what you have, focusing on being safe and dialling down financial, social and physical risk
– Boost immunity, health, fitness (both physical and mental) and effectively be resilient through a focus on strengthening yourself and limiting anything that might put you at risk
– A desire to grow, develop and enjoy life again
– The emphasis will be on closing the pleasure gap, engaging with people, experiencing real life and a sensory boost through hedonistic pursuits
– The goal will be to re-engage with the world and make up for lost time and experience
Understanding that there isn’t one uniform reaction to lockdown is vital for brands as they look to engage consumers.
For many of us, the experience will have been mixed.
Clearly, it’s been incredibly stressful, for some tragic and deeply damaging but for many of us there have been some positive experiences and realisations. We’ve spent more time with our partners, we’ve had time and space to think about our individual and collective futures and what we want to do with the rest of our lives e.g. Google recently reported a 4,000 per cent increase in searches for sustainable lifestyles.
This mixture of fear and hope is at the very heart of the matter.
Overwhelmingly we have all developed what we call Citizen Thinking, a desire to build on the very positive experience of getting to know and rely on our neighbours and friends whether they are next door or on the other side of the planet. We don’t want to go back to the isolated experiences of the past. We want and need to connect and we will expect brands to join us in building stronger communities, a stronger and fairer society and urgently address inequality, injustice and threats to the planet.
Our next post will explore the first mind-set which is called Protect.
If you’d like to learn more or want to discuss any of this in greater details please get in touch here.