How COVID-19 is impacting culture and consumer behavior: April 20 – 24.
By C-K’s Brand Planning and PR/Social teams
As some states begin to reopen and figure out how to operate in the “new normal,” other states and major cities are doubling down on lockdowns with extensions of business and school closures. The response: eruption of protests with people demanding that businesses reopen. With additional chatter of summer and fall closures, even those who are complying can’t help but ask, “When will this all end?”
The Half Economy
As people begin to think about life after stay-at-home orders are lifted, we won’t be returning to normal anytime soon.
- People are predicting the emergence of the half economy. Think: restaurants and movie theaters with half the seating, planes with empty middle seats, and staggered work hours.
- Get ready for social distancing for the long-haul: some of the world’s most reputable health organizations are predicting social distancing will be in place until 2022! And sadly, don’t expect to go back to crowded bars or large social gatherings anytime soon. Weddings, sporting events and concerts will all look very different until a vaccine or treatment is found.
- So what are people most likely to do in the new normal? If you are in Gen Z or are a Millennial, the first thing you’re most likely to do is dine out with your friends.
Masks Go Mainstream
Wearing face masks has been more common in Eastern cultures historically, but it is beginning to be required in public settings in many cities and states across the country. However, adoption has varied based on location, politics, cultural identity and past experiences.
- Currently, only a small number of states along the east coast as well as Illinois and Hawaii mandate masks, but mayors around the country are taking matters into their own hands and creating mandates for their cities. But it’s possible that masks will become the new seatbelts.
- The nation is divided, by politics, attitudes about government and even aesthetic, on whether to mask up.
- Even if not mandated by law, masks maybe become the new normal for restaurants.
- People of color have been less inclined to wear masks in public due to fear of being seen as a threat, prompting senators to demand police anti-bias training.
- No mask, no service. While some cities and states can’t mandate you wear a mask, businesses can refuse service to those without masks.
Crazy COIVD Dreams
It certainly isn’t news that rates of anxiety as well as other mental health issues continue to be on the rise during these times. However, one unexpected outcome of these increased cases is presenting itself in the middle of the night: exceptionally weird dreams.
- Google searches for “weird dreams” doubled since this time last year.
- Doctors who have been studying ‘collecting’ weird dreams throughout quarantine have noticed reoccurring themes around being punished, running away and breaking rules. They surmise that these detailed dreams could be a result of processing a collective trauma; similar reports of anxious and vivid dreams came out after 9/11.
- On the opposite side of the sleeping spectrum, some people are finding their COVID anxieties are manifesting in a complete lack of sleep.
- Researchers also point to a lack of environment changes (e.g. access to sunlight, change of scenery, etc.) throughout the day leading to a restless mind at night. The unconscious mind might be trying to make up for the lost daily experiences from pre-quarantine life.
Now You See Me
With many salons across America closed, along with retailers such as Sephora and Ulta, consumers are switching up their beauty and appearance routines. Emphasis has shifted from makeup to skin care, and home hair styling ranges from buzz cuts and bleach jobs to letting nature take its course.
- While the beauty and personal care category as whole faces steep declines, skin care products are seeing a bump with consumers in isolation. Lipstick and nail polish typically flourish in a recession as consumers seek small comforts in little luxuries.
- There’s plenty of DIY haircut advice out there. If you’re not sure what direction to take, check out #quarantinehair for inspiration.
- A new do is in the air for many, including some who are embracing grey.
Collective Lack of Closure
We’ve talked in previous issues about missing life’s happiest moments due to quarantine; graduations, weddings, prom, birthdays. However, as COVID claims the lives of more people, life’s toughest milestones such as end of life planning, death, funerals and mourning feel incredibly different amidst lockdown.
- As millions of Americans are unemployed, they turn to city-run funeral aid programs designed to help low-income citizens celebrate the lives of their deceased loved ones. Due to an unprecedented death toll from COVID, the system is flooded leaving mourners without any options.
- With strict social distancing in place, video chat memorials are the only option. Without the ability to memorialize the deceased in-person, computer-screen funerals have made some people feel less like a mourner and more like a virtual bystander to grief.
- Many elderly persons are struggling against social distancing requirements which are complicating their ability to finalize wills, banking and any associated end-of-life documentation. However, with only 20 states allowing virtual document notarization, experts are urging young family members to motivate and aid their elders through this process.