How COVID-19 is impacting culture and consumer behavior: March 23 – 27.
By C-K’s Brand Planning and PR/Social teams
Many of us are entering week 4 of this new shelter-in-place life and adjusting to day-by-day changes and challenges. Last week, we witnessed people finding more and more ways to connect and be #AloneTogether, from co-watching (co-bingeing?) movies and TV to virtual dance parties. That goes for cooking and baking too–we are betting if you’ve scrolled any social media recently, you’d see a loaf or two of bread as people are using the time at home to cook more and get creative with what’s in their pantries. But the reality and impact of COVID-19 is further setting in as the country reports a record-breaking 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment last week. We continue to monitor these changes daily and share our weekly roundup with you every week.
Trends: March 23-27
(Read the trends for March 16 – 20.)
Last week talked about people balancing the need for distancing with the need for connection and we’re continuing to see creative ways we, as innately social beings, are adapting to maintain our social lives at a distance.
- People across the country and globe are creating a real-life rainbow connection, filling windows with pictures of rainbows to connect with social-distancing neighbors and create a “rainbow hunt” for children.
- The Daily Show and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee brought laughter back to the airwaves this week. Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, Conan O’Brien and John Oliver will follow their lead in the coming week.
- Virtual dance parties have broken out, led by professional DJs stuck at home.
- While voice usage has been in a steady decline, now that Americans are spending more time at home, voice usage is up 25% in the last week. Conversations are lasting 15% longer. Weekend connection is winning with a 44% increase in Sunday voice calls.
- Video is becoming an increasingly important form of connection with video chats via Wi-Fi calling up 88% in the past week and Instagram releasing a co-watching feature.
Swiping Right on Furry Friends
In times of duress, consumers are finding comfort in the unconditional love offered by pets. Good thing, too, as pet surrenders are projected to rise.
- Whether they’re seeking companionship and comfort during isolation or looking for a way to fill a more flexible work-from-home schedule, Americans are flocking to animal shelters to foster or adopt a new pet.
- Forget toilet paper, New York City is running out of dogs to foster.
- Shelters are aiming to be proactive in providing foster or adoptive homes as some expect an increase in surrenders due to illness, financial hardship or job loss.
Back to (Cooking) Basics
With stocked pantries and nowhere to go, even the less culinarily-inclined amongst us are learning how to work with what they’ve got to cook and bake for themselves.
- Whether you prefer to keep it simple or try your hand at something a little more gourmet, there’s no shortage of pantry-staple recipes popping up. Even Chrissy Teigen is getting in on it.
- Wondering why the flour section of your local store is looking lonely? Many consumers are trying their hand at homemade bread. Google searches for bread reached an all-time high in the past week (Google, March 2020).
- Consumers are adopting a “waste not, want not” mentality. Top Google search trends are Coronavirus shopping list, shelf stable food and food stocking (Google, March 2020).
- Consumers are anxiously finding ways to strengthen their immune systems with natural home remedies. As a result, grocery stores are seeing an increase in sales of items such as ginger, garlic, elderberry and citrus fruits.
- Consumers trying to discover their inner-chef are turning to meal kit delivery services like HelloFresh, which has seen a 111.3% engagement increase.
Fortifying Our Homes
Stuck inside, we’re discovering the limitations of our current spaces, purging and imagining how what we’d do differently for a post-COVID reality.
- Spring cleaning has urgency attached to it this year.
- There’s never been a better time to Marie Kondo our spaces.
- Consumers are fortifying their homes and designing for the next pandemic.
- As a worst-case-scenario mindset creeps in, YouTube doomsday prep videos go viral.
Teleconferencing Moves Beyond the Boardroom
As many consumers adjust to a work-from-home (and everything-from-home) lifestyle, all the world has become a teleconference – sometimes with hilarious results.
- Suddenly we’re all empathizing with BBC Dad.
- “Remote working” searches on LinkedIn Learning have tripled since January as employees and managers look for advice (LinkedIn, March 2020).
- The new sound of worship services: “Can you mute your mic?”
- Consumers turn to brands like Behr, West Elm & The Infatuation for unique Zoom backgrounds to spice up their space and look better for “guests.”
- Retailers are seeing a sales surge in business appropriate tops (less so bottoms) as consumers realize they can dress casually from the waist down on video conferences.
The COVID-19 Chasm
The short and long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are further highlighting the deep divide between haves and have-nots across the U.S. and the world.
- As the virus spreads and resources continue to be stressed, less affluent consumers see increased risks.
- The 3 million Americans who filed for unemployment face an uncertain future with more coming, meanwhile those with job security are feeling stir crazy at home.
- While some can afford to panic buy-out stores, others, such as those who rely on WIC groceries, are finding there’s nothing left they can afford.
- Struggling businesses set up employee Go-Fund-Me accounts to keep businesses and workers afloat as U.S. unemployment rates reach a record high.
- Healthcare workers desperately seek out supplies donations and issue fervent pleas for others to “stay home for us.” Fashion designers are stepping up to answer the call.
- As consumers are more concerned about their financial future, viewership of cable news has increased by 78% across the total day and 134% of daytime specifically.
Learning a New Lexicon
As COVID-19 spreads, so does a new glossary of terms and semantics – some academic and some providing a light-hearted cultural take.
- Consumers are mixing Quarantinis as college-aged Zoomers log on to virtual parties and listen to Quarantunes on Spotify.
- Parents look for ways to help Quaranteens. Others have given that moniker, along with Coronnials, to babies from a potential boom coming out of COVID-19 lockdowns.
- As some take official warnings seriously and others choose to ignore them, a showdown has emerged between Covidiots and Covidients.
- Those cooped up at home fear the dreaded COVID-19(lbs), or the Quarantine 15.