How COVID-19 is impacting culture and consumer behavior: May 4 – 8.
By C-K’s Brand Planning and PR/Social teams
After eight weeks we’re in a transitional phase forcing everyone to evaluate even the most minute details and make tough choices. To stay open or to close? To stay in business or to fold? To risk my health or go back to work? But that critical analysis is also driving to a new world around us.
Throwing in the Towel
Unsure of what to expect, knowing the high financial cost and personal toll, some high-profile names across restaurants, retail and even in education are choosing to shut down rather than struggle to get by. In best case scenarios, the long-term goal is to change and adapt to the new realty, but others will be gone for good.
- By reopening states, some pundits say the U.S. government has quit the fight against COVID-19.
- Many restaurants are struggling to figure out if it’s worth it to stay open in an environment where they can’t operate at full capacity. Others have decided things will never be the same and have switched their business model from restaurant to meal kits.
- Iconic retailers across luxury (Niemen Marcus), premium (J. Crew) and mass (JC Penny) have filed for bankruptcy. Meanwhile mom and pop shops face the same difficult choices as the larger retailers.
- And on the education side, some school districts plan to end the school year early because remote learning is too tough.
- Instead of trying to prevent everyone from getting COVID-19, Sweden opted for a strategy of herd immunity.
Higher Ed Hiatus
May 1, National College Decision Day, has come and gone. But for many future students, the decision has yet to happen. While some colleges and universities have extended the deadline to June 1, the decision is paralyzing – colleges need decisions in order to make plans and students aren’t ready to commit.
- Fall enrollment at 4-year institutions may be down as much as 20% as some students consider staying closer to home and attending community college.
- Travel restrictions, diminished international recruitment efforts and heightened concerns about being “far from home” will impact international students – a population that represents significant revenue for colleges and universities.
- Many students are considering taking a gap year if colleges and universities don’t resume “traditional” classes in the fall.
- The economic devastation felt across the country – from massive unemployment to tanking savings and university endowments funds – has pushed the financial bar to clear even higher.
All Zoomed Out
Consumers are spending more time connecting with one another on Zoom, FaceTime, Houseparty and other video collaboration platforms. While it helps fill the socializing gaps of social distancing, many are finding it draining.
- Whether catching up with friends, collaborating with coworkers or dipping their toes into the virtual dating scene, consumers are finding the unnatural socializing environment and behavioral cues lost in the virtual world can make conversations feel much more taxing than they would be in person.
- How do you end a conversation when we all have nowhere to be? Little white Zoom lies may be your best bet.
- Some are recreating the feeling of a shared office without the unnecessary small talk by partaking in silent Zooms.
- Consumers looking for something to lighten up the Zoom mood are now renting farm animals to join their calls.
The Changing Earth in Lockdown
With much of our day spent having to create our own forms of entertainment, we’re now taking time to notice little things we may not have in the past. It’s giving us a growing appreciation for the life we know and is waiting for us once the pandemic passes.
- The use of meditation apps has spiked by 25% during the pandemic as people look to find calm amid the chaos. Taking a moment for mindful thinking and introspection is actually giving people a sense of togetherness even in isolation. It’s helping former meditation skeptics recognize how beneficial it can be to relieve stress they didn’t even realize they had.
- While it seems like life has hit the pause button for some Americans, others are realizing just how quickly time actually does fly by. According to the experts, that’s because our life is currently filled with monotonous activities (waking up to working from home, taking trips to the grocery store, making a cup of coffee) rather than memorable moments. This repetition is making it hard to distinguish one day from the next, making time feel as if it’s rapidly passing.
- Chirping birds sound a little louder than usual? You’re not alone. People are reporting that birds sound louder during the pandemic, and experts say it’s because you haven’t noticed them before amidst more noise pollution.
The 2010’s saw a surge in city populations, mostly driven by millennials looking for well-paying jobs and a lifestyle full of amenities. However, the bright lights of the city are starting to dull as nearly 33% of Americans are considering moving to a less densely populated area because of the outbreak.
- 39% of urban dwellers said the COVID crisis has prompted them to consider leaving for a less crowded place. 18-34 year-olds are even more likely to consider the move than their older counterparts.
- 43% of urban residents have recently browsed real estate sites and are more likely than suburban and rural residents to be looking elsewhere.
- As states and cities are still not whole after the 2008 recession, the economic impact from the pandemic may be fiscally devastating to services like education and infrastructure which are some of the main reasons to move into the city, making it even more appealing to move.
- With the threat or an Urban Migration back to burbs, cities are already trying to make infrastructure changes to make city dwelling more appealing to residents.
- With subway ridership down 90% and an increase in bike purchases, New York plans to open 100 miles of streets to pedestrian and cyclists only in attempt to create more space for people to maintain a safe distance.
- Oakland, CA and Charlotte, NC are following suit by closing a portion of their city streets to through traffic.
- But with a decrease in amenities and city-life luxuries, will these shifts be enough? If history repeats itself, Gen Z will be the next to flock to urban areas. However, the lack of social distancing and the economic impact of the pandemic may cause them to hold off.