How COVID-19 is impacting culture and consumer behavior: May 25 – 29.
By C-K’s Brand Planning and PR/Social teams
We are all figuring out the new normal.
It’s not new news that the world is changing, but as consumers start to figure out what their version of “new normal” is, they struggle to find a balance.
Trends for May 25 – 29:
- The Death of Work-Life Balance: For many people, WFH means work takes over their home life. Now, with major corporations like Facebook looking to make WFH permanent, we could see the total collapse of work-life balance.
- The Wheels on the Bike Go Round and Round: Biking and bike sales have seen a surge this spring as consumers find entertainment, transportation and exercise on two wheels.
- Cities Transformed: COVID-19 has changed the way cities around the world look, sound and behave, and they continue to change as the world begins to slowly re-open.
- Losing Patience or Just Losing It? After two months of isolation, it’s becoming crystal clear consumers are struggling to deal with their new normal.
- Homeschooling, Revisited: As the school year comes to a close and summer begins, we revisit homeschooling’s effect on students.
The Death of Work-Life Balance
Prior to COVID-19, the WFH revolution promised to liberate workers from the chains of the office, giving them greater flexibility and control over their schedules and lives. However, during COVID, employees have been forced to adopt the WFH business model and this experiment has revealed a reality that is very different from the one promised. For many people, WFH means work takes over their home life. Now, with major corporations like Facebook looking to make WFH permanent, we could see the total collapse of work-life balance.
- From the start of COVID, many have found WFH to be even more taxing than working from an office.
- Others argue that it kills creativity.
- Ultimately, companies like Facebook see cost savings across the board, from real estate to a reduction in cafeteria costs and they’re even talking about cost of living reductions.
- Meanwhile, working at home requires employees to increase their spending on everything from high speed internet, electricity, heating and even snacks once provided by employers. The question is whether companies will pitch in or not?
The Wheels on the Bike Go Round and Round
Biking has seen a surge this spring. Cycling enthusiasts are finding themselves with more time on their hands while casual riders and families have taken to walks and bike rides for entertainment and exercise. Mass transit reductions have forced workers to look for new, socially distant modes of transportation. And with cleaner air and fewer cars on the road, it has never been safer to ride.
- Cycling fans are always active. Serious road and mountain riders go year-round, rain or shine, pandemic or not. New riders and new bike sales are primarily casual riders, commuters and those interested in ebikes.
- According to NPD Group, bike sales have taken off. Bike shops are sold out well into the summer. While COVID-19 originally put supply chain pressure on bike and ebike manufacturing – and the nearly 100 parts it takes to make one – now consumer demand is creating supply challenges.
- Though bike shops were designated essential services by the federal and many state and local governments, the boon has been uneven with many shops needing to close and manufacturers, like Specialized, laying off workers.
- With more people cycling, cycling advocates and cities alike are wondering if the time has come to make more permanent changes to support cycling and pedestrian traffic.
COVID-19 has changed the way cities around the world look, sound and behave, and urban areas have continued to adapt as the world begins to “re-open.” While traffic (both foot and car) will likely eventually go back to pre-COVID levels, some changes in the way we use our urban spaces may be here to stay.
- Microphones around New York City have captured the sound of the pandemic, and the city that never sleeps is sounding rather sleepy. Car horns and chatter have been replaced with a low hum of wind and birds – a rather jarring departure from typical city sounds.
- Car traffic around the country is down about 40% and air pollution has dropped noticeably in some urban areas. However, across the U.S., ozone pollution has barely decreased year over year, as factories, refineries, power plants and diesel trucks are still causing most air pollution.
- As parts of the world start to re-open, many major cities are closing off and repurposing streets to allow for safer pedestrian areas and more space to dine outside safely. While the changes come with growing pains, these changes may have a positive long-term effect on how cities evaluate and utilize public space to foster safer communities.
Losing Patience or Just Losing It?
Consumers are starting to fray at the seams after over two months of restrictions. Some are removing themselves completely with a change of scenery or reconsidering living in the city they love. Some are rebelling by ignoring social distancing guidelines or attacking others. No matter the reaction, it’s becoming clear that “extreme isolation isn’t sustainable” and consumers’ patience is running out.
- New Yorkers have always been a loyal bunch, sticking by their city through thick and thin. However, the pandemic may have finally proved too great of a price to pay for life in the Big Apple as people have started to reassess.
- People are itching to leave their house as we see daily miles traveled increase by 38% in the last month. But more and more are going farther and retreating to vacation proprieties for months on end.
- RV’s are becoming a way Americans feel they can safely keep their summer vacation plans as RV rentals have increased 650% since the beginning of April.
- In states that have started opening up, Memorial Day weekend was a raucous affair including packed beaches or a pool party in Lake of the Ozarks with compete disregard for social distancing or mask guidelines.
- Shoppers in a Staten Island grocery store started screaming at a fellow shopper who wasn’t wearing a mask.
In our 4/20 issue of Emerging Consumer Trends, we discussed the education inequalities coming to light across income groups in the midst of COVID-9 in our trend, “The Parents Are Not All Right.” As the school year comes to a close and summer begins, we wanted to revisit this trend to see how the school year panned out amidst the pandemic.
- As the school year comes to a close, a recent study has showed that homeschooling during COVID has indeed disproportionately affected low-income families. Parents making less than $25K a year were 10X more likely than families making six figures and above to say their kids are doing little or no remote learning (38% vs. 3.7% respectively).
- Many schools are currently in limbo as they try to figure whether or not they will reopen buildings this fall to students. Complicating this is teachers’ feelings of safety leading in-person instruction. A recent poll showed that 1 in 5 teachers plan not to return to schools this year.
- As the recently coined “COVID generation” of students plan to return to classes in the fall, educators are worried about education achievement gaps. While a gap is normal as students fall out of their education rhythm during summer, it is predicted to accelerate significantly due to COVID.