The main issue of Coronavirus is obviously health. But what about the unseen impact? Lets try to make sense of it…
Life after Coronavirus
Designers, marketers and branders should understand the environment around us and the psychology of people. So, when a world altering event happens, we need to understand how it will change behaviours. It is clear Covid-19 will have a big effect on buying habits, how we perceive the world and society in general.
Comparisons to traumatic world events
In relative terms 9-11 was a far smaller event, but its impact changed the world. The world watched the terror unfold, streaming it live from our computers. The age of technology was formally ushered in. Now the news cycle is even quicker and more global.
But Coronavirus feels far larger, more akin to a world war or a dystopian 70’s sci-fi movie. With countries worldwide shut and people staying at home, the threat is affecting almost everyone on the planet. People are scared. Before people were even speaking about social distancing a fight broke out in the changing room of my gym, because someone started coughing.
“more akin to a world war or something from a dystopian 70’s sci-fi movie”
Cash has already become far rarer for hygiene reasons. The streets are empty and much business has stopped. Necessities such as food aside, people have stopped consuming things at the same pace. No one knows how long this state of emergency could go on for.
The economic effects of Coronavirus alone will be massive. Small businesses will be decimated. The high street was already struggling – will people ever return in the same numbers to crowded shopping centres and high streets? Will air travel ever be so accessible again?
The economic effects of Coronavirus alone will be massive
Technology on steroids
Suddenly technology like the video conferencing system Zoom has become mainstream. Almost everyone has been working from home and shopping online where possible, so the changeover from offline to online has been artificially sped up. Technology on steroids. A new habit and way of life has been created for many people. Long after Covid-19 has gone, elements of this new lifestyle will remain, integrated into our lives permanently.
“A new habit and way of life has been created”
These new norms including the artificial increase in online behaviour, could change the way we as human beings interact. Face-to-face interactions are currently frowned upon for obvious health reasons, whereas technology is perfect for social distancing. Various studies prove that screen time changes the way a child’s brain works. The speed of technology could artificially influence our social evolution too.
Massive platform companies are using the situation caused by Covid-19 to automate their workforce even more. Businesses like restaurants are shutting, while app-based giants hoover up the customers. These companies are filling some of the gaps torn open by this virus and are establishing new business norms. When a company like Amazon changes the rules, it has the level of power comparable to government policy. It can ruin businesses in the blink of an eye. Their power will only be increased.
Online food stores like Ocado are both filling the space and also are struggling to keep up with demand.
Until now, many brands have been slow to sell directly to the consumer online and provide a more efficient and profitable service. This may force the hand of brands across different sectors. Even before Covid-19, the luxury watch industry found itself in a weakened position because it has been slow to adopt effective online models and marketing tactics.
One issue will be how to make the online experience more human. It’s something that brands already struggle with. Many examine ‘data’ at the expense of trying to understand people. Those who take the time to understand human psychology and apply that to an online environment will have an advantage.
Feast or famine
At this moment businesses are either rushed off their feet or sales have fallen through the floor. As recessions have proved, cutting out marketing is not the answer for those that can afford it. Right now innovative thinking is needed with unprecedented cooperation among sectors.
Young people generally live a more healthy lifestyle than previous generations – fitness and good eating has replaced smoking and drinking. There is a sense of guilt about existence and the impact on the planet. But we have limited power to control something like a virus. Living with a sense of powerlessness and doom will certainly mould a generation. Children and young teenagers growing up at this time will have a different outlook about life and the world. Their behavioural norms will be altered.
For the rest of us, now that new norms have been established our patterns of behaviour will also have changed. There will be a new normal.
One thing is for sure… when we come out from this enforced hibernation, the world won’t be the same place.