How COVID-19 is impacting culture and consumer behavior: May 18 – 22.
By C-K’s Brand Planning and PR/Social teams
With an economic crisis unfurling, we are in the beginning stages of grasping the hidden costs of the pandemic.
The Rise of the “Shecession”
In past consumer trends, we have discussed the impact the pandemic has had on parents, working from home and wearing multiple hats like caregiver, provider and educator. However, as we turn our attention towards reopening, working women are being hit especially hard, causing a “Shecession.”
- Over the past 20 years there has been a 13% decline in the female workforce from women with small kids due to the rising costs of childcare. As states start to reopen, childcare options will be limited and costs will increase which will have a disproportionately negative impact on the women workforce.
- Even if women have partners who share in caregiving responsibilities, they’re competing with men that don’t, as men are 4 times more likely to have spouses that work part-time or not at all.
- The female-dominated service and hospitality industries have been some of the hardest hit segments as 57% of workers in the hotel and lodging industries are women. Non-citizen women are experiencing 10% greater job loss than their male counterparts.
- Female contributions to academia papers has remained stagnant or declined since the pandemic while male contributions have increased by 50% without much change in job status. This data shows how the disparity of the roles of childcare in the home are more greatly impacting the productivity of women than their male counterparts.
Gen Z Will Suffer the Long-Term Effects
Although they have a much lower mortality rate, some argue that in the long run, Gen Z will be the generation hit hardest by COVID. The pandemic is putting them behind in everything from schooling (1.5 billion students are out of school) to jobs, to unemployment (topping 24% in April among 21-24 year olds, the highest among any age group). Mentally, it is the defining moment of their lives that will leave an indelible mark.
- While older generations are seeing a higher death rate, their lives are “on pause” vs. Gen Z who’s life is “cancelled.” Gen Z will forever be marked by cautious about their health, finances and trust they place in politicians and institutions.
- Workers of this cohort are more likely than older generations to work in industries shut down by social distancing restrictions, according to the Pew Research Center and the Resolution Foundation.
- COVID-19 is a defining moment for this generation, much like the Great Depression was for the Greatest Generation.
The End of the Neighborhood?
With small to midsized businesses making up 50% of the American workforce, improvement in unemployment numbers are dependent on these businesses being able to weather the storm. These businesses have been falling behind in their bills, especially restaurants and hotels. As states begin to reopen, they’ll be challenged to be successful in a time of social distancing guidelines. The longer the recovery, the harder it will be to make a meaningful reduction in unemployment numbers.
- So far, more than 100,000 small businesses, or 2%, have permanently closed due to the coronavirus.
- 3% of restaurant operators have gone out of business to date.
- The federal stimulus bill has provided 4.2 million of the 30 million small businesses loans in order to help. However, this may not be enough as 34% are already late in payments.
- Some small businesses are going to the extreme to try to mitigate their financial losses by adding a “COVID tax” in their prices. However, governments are pushing back.
- Even if small businesses survive once states fully reopen, only 45% expect to rehire the same workers which is causing additional job concern for consumers.
- With 76% of mothers and 96% of fathers working full time, small businesses like childcare services not surviving provides an additional concern as it could cause one parent to prioritize childcare over their job.
Delivery App Backlash
Delivery apps have been a popular and convenient way for consumers to order from their favorite restaurants while maintaining safe social distancing guidelines, but many of these apps are coming under scrutiny for their high fees. In fact, some of these food delivery services charge as much as a 40% markup, creating major implications for restaurants, particularly mom and pop operators, struggling to survive during COVID-19.
- In the Bay Area, home to many of these apps, consumers are seeking out alternative ways to order and deliver food to show their dedication to small businesses.
- New York recently put a 15% cap on delivery charges, enticing other cities (like Los Angeles) to consider doing the same.
- Restaurants are beginning to rebel, creating guerrilla campaigns to persuade customers to skip delivery apps and order straight through them.
- Some restaurateurs have even started testing these price gauging theories on their own, finding sneaky ways to work around the system.
The Price of Public Safety
Consumers are increasingly sensitive about who has access to their data. While some industries have garnered a greater sense of trust, like healthcare and financial services, no industry has earned a trust rating of 50% for data protection. As the world looks for ways to reopen, there’s a general agreement that data access is the key to tracking and managing the virus. But giving data access to governments through “track and trace” is sounding the alarm for consumers as they are challenged with the choice between privacy and a return to normalcy. Just what are people willing to give up?
- Consumers believe that once rights are given up, they are hard to get back. Following 9/11, the surveillance collected was used to prosecute a variety of crimes not relating to the original intention of the access.
- There’s a call to delay the new CCPA data privacy law in California until the pandemic is over, which raises concerns the pandemic will undermine current data privacy laws.
- As businesses look to reopen, employee COVID testing measures are being put in place, but do they cross the line by allowing employers access to sensitive health data?
- Large privately held companies like Google and Apple have released a coronavirus tracking software which is creating concern among consumers and public health officials.