“This is the kind of event that is going to live on for decades in people’s minds”

Graham Medley, Professor of Infectious Disease Modelling, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, 12/03/2020

A pandemic is a era-defining thing. In identifying the spread of COVID-19 through the population as the kind of long term event that will live on for decades in the minds of people, Professor Graham Medley referenced the Blitz. That – and the war that continued after that, and the rationing that continued after that – did shape the attitudes of an entire generation.

The Covid-19 pandemic is no different. Entire markets will be shaped – in fact, are being shaped – by the spread of the virus already. In the short term, travel and transport, retail supply chains and hospitality are the most directly affected. In the long term, every sector will feel the impact of new attitudes and changed behaviours.

We have summarised our expectations of what these shifts will look like below. We will continue to monitor these trends as the pandemic continues.

The Post-Pandemic Consumer Trends Matrix, March 2020

Dominant Trends

  • C-SUITE SCRUTINY – new ethical concerns focus on corporate governance, especially job security and gig workers as c-suite will be expected to look out for most vulnerable employees
  • MERCURIAL CONSUMERS – in a crisis loyalty to a brand or business is forgotten and scarcity means consumers will go to where the products are. As routines are disrupted, habits will be lost
  • NEW MORALITY – stockpiling of essential items is a selfish behaviour, people will look out for number one and ethical concerns will narrow
  • DEATH OF DISTANCE – anything that can be done from home, remotely, will be – including both work and leisure. The value placed on proximity will diminish. For work, this will be a step-change
  • ANTI GLOBALISATION – anxiety about the wider world and tangible and intangible threats is accelerated, manifested in travel bans and nationalist or patriotic sentiment

Slowed Trends

  • DECLINE OF DEFERENCE – in times of crisis, we place faith in institutions and experts to steer us to safety
  • PLAY SOCIETY – Out of home leisure, including hospitality and tourism will suffer in short term but will quickly rebound when restrictions are lifted
  • ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERN – consumer concerns around wider – and more distant-seeming – issues or threats will diminish as the crisis on the doorstep gets our attention
  • WORD OF MOUTH DOMINANCE – Dominance of peer recommendations and word of mouth stalls as expertise rises in importance

Arrested Trends

  • CULTURE WARS – what Brexit divide? Political and social debates take a back seat as more urgent and salient issues – in healthcare delivery and economic stability – come to the fore
  • US VS US – forces of polarisation stall as sense of unity and common purpose dominates
  • REBOUNDING CONFIDENCE – recent rises in consumer confidence and positive economic projections are stopped in their tracks

Advancing Trends

  • SOCIAL BENEFITS OF TECH – As technology provides an essential lifeline to individuals, businesses and services during the crisis perceptions of its worth to society will improve
  • ON DEMAND LIFESTYLES – accelerated take up of digital remote services (including delivery and entertainment)
  • REINVIGORATED COLLECTIVISM – depth of impact on businesses and economy will result in rise in support for public spending and possibly new social safety nets
  • LOSS OF AUTONOMY – acceleration in nascent trend for low levels of choice and control will see long term decline in optimism and confidence