How COVID-19 is impacting culture and consumer behavior: May 11 – 15.
By C-K’s Brand Planning and PR/Social teams
After being on lockdown for so long, people are conflicted: by the need to get out and the desire to feel safe, the right to freedom and the right of public security, a craving for connection and the requisite to keep distance. Ultimately, even if the world is trying to reopen, mentally, we may not be prepared to immediately go back to normal.
(Read the trends for May 4 – May 8.)
Sick People Too Scared to Visit the Doctor
Across the country there is an eerie lack of non-COVID ER visits. Despite obvious and sometimes serious symptoms, many people are putting off going to the doctor because they are afraid of contracting COVID. They see emergency rooms and medical facilities as posing too great a risk for contraction. Ironically, their efforts to avoid a visit sometimes results in patients having to spend more time at the hospital because their conditions have become too serious for outpatient treatment.
- Across the nation, ER volumes are down 40-50% because COVID is keeping people from responsibly seeking medical attention for urgent issues.
- People are not going to the hospital even though they are showing symptoms of major problems like burst appendixes, stroke and heart attacks.
- Some women are choosing to give birth at home out of fear of contracting the coronavirus from the hospital.
Drive-in Culture. We’re falling in love with our cars again
Consumers are starting to plan the future as a form of escapism. Recent searches on Pinterest suggest people are most interested in planning travel, summer clothes and hanging with friends. However, until restrictions are lifted, cars are taking on new roles.
- As cars serve a greater purpose in the lives of consumers, we see search trends indicate consumers are reinvesting in improvements as audio equipment clicks were up 49% and body repair clicks were up 29% in April.
- Road trips are coming back into fashion as air travel remains risky. 31% of Americans plan to do a road trip this summer with a surge in late summer with the main motivation to visit family and friends.
- “Wave Parades” are becoming more popular as consumers look for safe ways to celebrate occasions like birthdays, graduations and baby showers.
- Drive-in movie theatres are returning this summer as Tribeca Enterprises partners with IMAX and AT&T to reopen drive-in theaters across the country. In the meantime, these theaters aren’t just being used for movies. They’re being turned into entertainment hubs like a couple that used a drive-in theater as a unique wedding venue.
Nostalgia for Things We’ve Lost
Burned out by Zoom and Skype calls but still yearning for a chance to meet friends for dinner, visit family, or go to happy hour with coworkers, many are turning towards dated forms of communication to stay in touch.
- Family meals– Cooking has become a great way to relieve stress, keep the kids engaged and, for many, learn a new skill. Pulling out grandma’s secret recipe from the vault is creating comfort in times of uncertainty. But it’s not just the cooking process people are enjoying, it’s the process of sitting around the dinner table, getting connected and eating together.
- Snail mail – The old-fashioned method is making a comeback as people have more time to sit down and take pen to paper. It’s also helping to spread messages of hope in times of loneliness.
- Getting creative – Whether through painting, writing poems or sewing, we’re using various forms of art to represent our thoughts and feelings and to connect with people authentically.
- Drive-in dining – Drive-in restaurants are seeing a spike, catering to those that want the dining out experience while still maintaining social distancing guidelines. Some restaurants have even transitioned back to the 1950s carhop service to meet growing demand.
Time for a Reality Check
Once a novel advancement reserved for the spectrum edges of high tech or frivolous applications, the physical separation, forced lockdown and video camera reliance brought about by COVID-19 may finally usher in mainstream augmented reality.
- With at-home shopping becoming a greater part of consumers’ lives, retailers will continue to adopt AR to help users answer key shopping questions of, “will it fit?” and, “will it match?” Early adopters saw increased conversion rates and decreased returns.
- First year med students at Case Western are using award-winning AR applications to learn anatomy from home while AR reading apps are keeping younger children engaged and making excessive screen time more productive.
- Virtual filters on Instagram, Zoom and others are helping break the monotony of staring out and sharing ourselves over devices while in quarantine.
- While not likely to replace gyms once they reopen, AR and VR are helping consumers stick with their fitness routines.
Starved for Sports
A recent study showed that fans are deprived and growing increasingly eager to get back to watching sports. Nearly half of fans are willing to attend a live sporting event without hesitation. However, in the last few weeks, the tides have finally started to shift as sports make a return to a COVID world.
- After COVID shut down the European soccer league, the German Bundesliga will be the first major soccer league to return to regular matches. With strict health protocols, limited playing time and cardboard cutouts of fans to fill the stands, the league will look and feel a lot different.
- Football is back…well, maybe. In an optimistic move, the NFL has released their preseason schedule with games potentially starting in August. All eyes are on COVID as it will dictate whether the season goes forth.
- With a plan to open the season without fans permitted, the MLB has proposed opening the season as early as the July 4th weekend. In the meantime, baseball fans who can’t wait can turn on the Korean Baseball Organization which has just begun their preseason series. But without an audience in the stands, both fans and players alike are finding the game a little unsettling.