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10 insights for the new normal

(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/bikeriderlondon)

Home Truths is an in-depth lifelogging study of households across the UK, to help organizations understand what really matters to people right now, and what this means in terms of business in the new normal.

The comprehensive study which uses vlogging techniques to record people’s real actions and feelings provides up-to-the minute insight during these fast moving times.

Some of the most important considerations include:

1. The old normal

The study reveals that people are working hard to find and maintain some sense of normality in the midst of so much upheaval. To reflect this brands need to give consumers the comfort and security of how life was before and continue to deliver the ‘old normal’ whilst people adapt to a new way of life.

2. The new normal

The new normal is full of anxiety and challenges and is not something people are prepared to accept wholesale. But there are aspects of this new way of life that people do want to embrace – even if they sometimes find this hard to admit to themselves or to others. Brands need to tap into a renewed sense of what really matters to people and speak to the aspects of the new normal that resonate, recognizing that some of this may be sensitive.

3. Getting back to normal

Most of the households are not ready push the boundaries and go back out there no matter how much they miss their old, normal lives. Normality will not be established through an absence of rules or guidelines from the government, instead requiring a sense of being able to go out and do things without significant worry or anxiety. Brands need to be empathetic and design experiences that demonstrate an understanding of the emotional and physical safety needs of their customers as they adapt to life outside again.

4. Achieving the basics

The research highlights that people have been putting a lot of energy into achieving the basics. Now they are able to meet their physical needs, they are focusing on a sense of safety and belonging. However, this don’t leave much energy for higher-order needs such as creativity, motivation, spontaneity or a sense of achievement. Brands have an opportunity to show understanding and help people to achieve the basics so that they expend less energy on these and support people to start to feel a sense of progress and purpose again. From light relief of daily anxieties, to special moments of celebration; there is a role to connect on a deeper and more personal level than previously.

5. Focus on food

Food has become a focal point of many people’s lives - for both sustenance and entertainment. Food is one of the few areas where there is at least some potential for disruption, excitement or change. But this focus on food is somewhat at odds with the pressure and pains of actually buying food in a socially distanced environment. Safety trumps loyalty when it comes to shopping and many have voted with their feet. Brands have an important role to play in making the discovery and delivery of food easier so people can enjoy more of the things that make them happy.

6. Every day is like a Sunday afternoon

As lockdown stretched on and has now evolved, one of the most difficult aspects of life at home has been the sameness. Despite relaxation of the rules and the opening up of parts of the economy, for many there is little opportunity for novelty, discovery or spontaneity, and at the same time a pervasive low-level anxiety and uncertainty about what ‘tomorrow’ holds. Brands have an opportunity to surprise and delight through enabling the discovery of new products and experiences, both within the home and outside as people become more comfortable with the easing of restrictions.

7. Cautious and conscious about money

The Covid crisis has obviously exacerbated financial worries across that spectrum and even those who are still working and managing to make ends meet are trying to hold on to their money to prepare for whatever might come next. The uncertainty about how long this might go on for and the speed of an economic recovery is significant concern. Brands need to work harder to encourage people to spend money through more clearly demonstrating practical or emotional value. Brands may need to offer short-term support in return for long-term reputation and customer loyalty.

8. Doing the right thing, not just saying the right thing

In a climate of empathy, the way a brand treats its staff at all levels is very top of mind for people across the social and political spectrum. People understand that this is a challenging time and we are all learning, but there is still an expectation that issues will be dealt with openly and honestly, showing the steps that are being put in place to make things better for the future. At times like these, brands are judged on their actions, not their words. It’s hugely important that businesses stay true to their values and act responsibly on behalf of their employees, customers and communities.

9. Staying connected and disconnected

Over the last few months people’s screen time has skyrocketed. And even though we’re now able to meet up more freely; work, entertainment and social contact are still frequently delivered via screens and so it can be a struggle to fully disconnect. The temptation for brands will be to tap into the national acceptance of on-screen comms, but brands should also be aware of the need to step away from screens and not attempt to interfere when people are disconnected.

10. Making space for everyone

Living life largely at home has meant that people need their physical space to work harder for them than ever before. Many people are putting effort and energy into creating pleasant spaces for everyone, as well as thinking about new functional needs such as working spaces for everyone living at home. As homes become utilized for a wider range of activities, there are opportunities for brands to offer innovative products and services which allow people to compartmentalize and better manage their space.

What is clear from our research is that Covid-19 has had an enormous impact on how people feel, think and choose.  It is important that organizations use insight to help them make better informed decisions to capitalize on the changes that are happening right now and plan their approach moving forward.

Manfred Abraham, CEO, BrandCap