Thought Leadership

What are the new rituals and customer touchpoints that will last way beyond lockdown?

With our new normal comes a new way of living for many and a new marketing landscape to navigate.

Izzy Ashton

Deputy Editor, BITE

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Often in the wake of a crisis, we overestimate quite how much consumer behaviour will change in the long-term. The marketing industry waxes lyrical about shifting shopping and consumption habits whilst simultaneously trying to remember that, in reality, not much will change.

But perhaps this crisis is different. Maybe this will be the one that permanently impacts behaviour. A genuine reset moment for brands. Take shopping online for example. For many, lockdown has pushed them into a way of purchasing that they may not have considered before but will now never turn away from.

And where once London, and the South, were a global community, what lockdown has revealed is a growth of a village mentality. A heightened awareness of those in our close vicinity, from the shopkeepers to the café owners and even the regular park walkers.

The nationwide lockdown forced behavioural change that none of us were expecting or even indeed looking for. With our new normal comes a new way of living for many and a new marketing landscape to navigate. With that in mind, we asked industry insiders to explore, what are the new rituals and customer touchpoints that will last way beyond lockdown?

Perhaps what will last after lockdown is, simply, real priorities.

Joanna Dann

Joanna Dann

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Strategic Partner

Who Wot Why

Lockdown reintroduced us to simple things, refocusing us on what matters. Forced isolation shook us out of self-imposed disconnection from the things closest to us.

We catch up with close friends and family more attentively, more often than we made time for before. And pre-lockdown what over 25-year-old answered a video call? Now it’s every day and normal.

We’re more connected to local community too. Local WhatsApp groups set up to help those vulnerable during lockdown persist as neighbourly spirit and support are revived.

It’s our local restaurants and pubs that we’re turning to as we venture out, finding new high street regulars. We’ve rediscovered parks and open spaces as favourite social places, for everything from lunches to celebrations.

And at least while the weather allows, we want to hang on to the outside. Lockdown’s provoked our desire for private outside space; estate agents report an increase in buyers looking for their own garden or balcony, however small.

Some lockdown trends are disappearing already. Searches for recipes spiked dramatically at the height of lockdown but are down to March levels. Zoom Parties are, thankfully, becoming a memory.

So, perhaps what will last after lockdown is, simply, real priorities.

COVID-19 was supposed to be the great leveller, instead it threw society’s cracks into sharp relief.

Ben Bisco

Ben Bisco

Ben Bisco, TwentySix.jpg

Strategy & Planning Director

twentysix

Digital clearly saved us in lockdown. What was forced on us through necessity, we’ll keep for its convenience and efficiency. And where it doesn’t measure up to real life, new tech will make it better. That might catapult us forward in ways that may have seemed unlikely before. For example, will VR finally take off to make remote working/video calls better? In this context, brands will need to make sure their online presence and experience keeps up with evolving consumer behaviour and new technology.   

COVID-19 was supposed to be the great leveller, instead it threw society’s cracks into sharp relief. The Black Lives Matter movement and responses to crisis in Lebanon and Belarus showed the pandemic won’t hold people back. In fact, it can be a spark. Expect more movements, including a resurgence of eco-concern as people make the connection between how we treat the planet and how it fights back. People increasingly expect businesses to be part of the solution, but tread carefully: only get involved if you’re doing so responsibly and authentically and you can #showyourreciepts.    

We all reacted to lockdown in different ways, but it’s fair to say emotions have run high, and given that uncertainty remains, they probably will for a while. Brands should continue to respond sensitively. One way is to eliminate uncertainty wherever possible. Directly, through clear and honest comms: think info on COVID security, or just honesty about stock levels or delivery times. Or indirectly, with positive framing and safety signals that reassure buyers they are making the right decision.

COVID has given businesses an opportunity to press the reset button.

Jasman Ahmad

Jasman Ahmad

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Strategy Director

Accord Marketing

‘It’s the new normal’, a phrase most of us hadn’t used prior to March. Since then we’ve been inundated with opinion pieces on how everything will change. The truth is, we humans are creatures of habit that strive for familiarity and, if anything, desire during lockdown has been for a sense of normality.  

So, I for one find it hard to buy into a whole-hearted new normal. However, being pragmatic, there are behaviours that have changed, one of which has been the rise of in-home-consumption. 

We’ve seen three years’ worth of digital transformation, and adoption, in as many months. And this swing is here to stay with shopping from our settees seeming increasingly attractive, safe and easy as time goes on. 

Another big talking point is around community as for many, lockdown has brought out an appreciation for their local area, with many community-led apps and social pages created to connect and bring people together. The opportunity here is to tailor and deliver messaging to different groups through these newly established networks, or to use existing footprint to support local businesses or sponsor events.

All-in-all, COVID has given businesses an opportunity to press the reset button and ask themselves what is it that we’ve always done versus the way we could do it better.

Smart marketers [will choose] reliable creators who can deliver insight around their products and services with authority.

Lore Oxford

Lore Oxford

Lore Oxford, global head of cultural insights, We Are Social.jpg

Global Head of Cultural Insights

We Are Social

Recent years have seen the influencer economy come under scrutiny, perceived as an industry that at best perpetuates unrealistic ideals, and at worst, hoodwinks people into blowing their cash scams, looking at you, Fyre Festival. During lockdown, this mistrust has been magnified, with uncertainty and misinformation is even more prevalent than ever.

So, people are looking to public figures with proven expertise. Numerous fan pages and groups have sprung up around US infectious diseases expert Dr Anthony Fauci, for example, propelled to fame because of his guidance during a fearful time.

And in the wake of this success, a new wave of experts-turned-social-stars have risen up, from British dermatologist Dr Ewoma Ukeleghe to French philosophy professor Marie Robert. Meanwhile, niche experts are going viral as people look to fact check sources, such as cartographer Joanna Merson providing a correction on inaccurate maps of London and NYC shared to illustrate the scale of the explosion in Beirut.

This is the beginnings of a more discerning form of social media usage. People are increasingly using these platforms for legitimate news and information, so ensuring our feeds are filled with trusted sources is becoming more important. 

This will impact how brands choose and work with talent, with smart marketers choosing reliable creators who can deliver insight around their products and services with authority.

In some ways, lockdown has forced us to develop faster, more convenient and cheaper ways of doing things.

Jon Goulding

Jon Goulding

Jon Goulding, Atomic.png

CEO

Atomic

I’ve never been a wholehearted subscriber of the theory that lockdown will change the way we behave forever. But no doubt some things are here to stay, and some are all for the good. In some ways, lockdown has forced us to develop faster, more convenient and cheaper ways of doing things. And those are the ones that are most likely to stick around.

Virtual touchpoint as the first touchpoint is probably here to stay. Video calling a GP at home, banking assistant in their study, emergency plumber in their van have all become mainstream with great benefits of speed and convenience vs the ‘in person’ alternative.

Where we have engaged with the physical world, more queuing, our first love as a nation, has become everyday life. But queue assistants, queue cameras, load predictors in retail outlets have all helped stores operate more effectively. It has also made the whole concept of queuing more palatable for consumers.

And who would have predicted that we’d be so happy to hand over personal data as we freely check-in at pubs, bars and restaurants, without a GDPR tick box in sight btw? A willingness to hand over personal data isn’t the only surprise we’ve seen in pubs & restaurants; the fight back of the humble QR code has gone down a storm. The subsequent benefits of easy ordering and fast payment seem like a no brainer to carry on post-COVID.