Four COVID-19 trends brands cannot ignore

The pandemic has changed how many of us are living our lives. Here are four trends that help explain the new world and provide implications for how brands should be responding.

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1. From FOMO to FOGO

We have gone from a time when people had a fear of missing out to having a fear of going out. Almost every country has seen a lockdown to control the spread of the virus, and this has led to people having to live more distant lives, working and socialising remotely. As the lockdowns have ended, many, especially those over 50, have been reluctant to live lives as full as before, wanting to continue to stay and order in.

Why now?
Technology makes it easier to live more distantly. If the pandemic had hit 20 years ago, we would have been less able to live normal lives from home. Now with Zoom, Netflix, delivery apps and more we can be distanced, but still socially and economically active.

Implications
Brands need to create a contactless point of connection for their customers. This could be offering the same goods and services online, or it could be re-working your business model for the new world, with innovative new lines for people to buy. Brands can also create new ways to experience what they are doing, including virtual try-ons with augmented reality, online consultations, or even just an upbeat social media presence to update customers on how the brand is surviving.

2. Big Government

After years of governments trying to create conditions for the free markets to take a larger share of the economy, governments are now having a larger role in the economy than at any time in recent memory. They are injecting financial stimuli through programmes like furlough schemes, and providing subsidies and tax cuts, but also insisting their populations follow rules like wearing masks and helping to cut levels of infections.

Why now?
Governments have no choice if they want to support their economies. They know that many businesses are fundamentally healthy, but they need to pay workers to stay at home so that the virus can’t be spread between people. They also know that changes need to be made to how people live their lives (healthy people cope better with illness), and other measures can make life safer, for example allowing electric scooter companies to operate.

Implications
Brands need to understand and accept this new world. Restrictions may be inconvenient or even prevent some areas of business, but it is important that they help the government’s efforts to get the economy back to health as soon as possible.

3. The Metaverse

The Metaverse is a name for a new, immersive type of gaming that is changing how games are perceived. The most popular games like Fortnite are now MMO (massive multiplayer online) games, which never stop; you log in for a few hours, but the game continues whether you are there or not. They have become more ‘places’ and ‘spaces’ than ‘games’ — they are the locations where people arrange to meet and hang out, like ‘The Oasis’ in the movie Ready Player One.

Why now?
Just as social media services like Instagram used elements of gaming (Likes and Follows) to increase their traction, games are now using aspects of social networks to increase their role in people’s lives, and the amount of time spent in them. This increased engagement has led to a more enjoyable experience and made more revenues for gaming companies.

Implications
Brands need to view these games as locations where people choose to spend their time. As they are becoming more brand-friendly, there are lots of new opportunities to engage, including in-game advertising and partnership opportunities.

4. Transport

Many advertising opportunities are based around travel, including out of home, podcast consumption while commuting, and reading newspapers. With mobility levels are still below pre-lockdown levels, we need to get a better understanding of how people are using media during these times and identify the new media moments.

Why now?
If people are working from home, they don’t need to commute. If people don’t need to commute, do they still need to live near to their workplaces? The economics of transport systems is based around full capacity, and if we won’t have this in the near future, how will cities transform?

Implications
Location has never been more important in understanding consumer behaviour, and planning communications. Brands need to understand the new media moments that have replaced drive time and other segments that don’t exist in the same way anymore.

Carat UK

Carat is a global, award-winning agency – focused on building our client’s brands and driving measurable business performance for some of the world’s largest brands, including Diageo, Kellogg’s, Mondelēz, The Co-operative Group, Vodafone and Microsoft. Consistently recognised as #1 in RECMA’s Global Qualitative Evaluation ranking, the last 18 months has also seen Carat UK win three Cannes Lions, three Eurobest Awards and four Media Week Awards, proof we are truly building ideas that matter.

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