Voices

Not The Year Ahead: There’s no place like home

In the spirit of 2020, and feeling entirely unable to predict what happens next, Alec Samways CEO of Splendid Communications offers up some current observations peppered with hopeful, open-ended vision.

Alec Samways, Splendid Communications

CEO

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For those of us lucky enough to be doing our jobs safely from home, remote working has been a positive surprise; it can be done, and done well. Flexible working is here to stay, in our industry at least. The Houseparty app and weekly Zoom Quizzes are hopefully not.

Online shopping is diversifying and dominating. Subscription boxes, delivery services and DIY at-home kits have grown exponentially and are likely to continue. TopCashBack reported 57% of Brits now have a subscription box service, up nearly 10% on last year. We’ll soon see ‘delivery box fatigue’, but for now I welcome any knock on the front door.

We’ve had to get creative during COVID to deliver events directly into the home. This year we switched our Tesco Christmas in July Showcase from a three-day event with hundreds of visitors to a TV-style production, hosted online for the very first time. Journalist reaction was incredibly positive, and the convenience and inclusivity was applauded, with the media tuning in from anywhere.

Even when the world reopens, experiences should be more digital, efficient, engaging and inclusive.

Stuck indoors, hopefully with time clawed back from the daily commute, many of us reassessed priorities.

Alec Samways

Back to basics

Stuck indoors, hopefully with time clawed back from the daily commute, many of us reassessed priorities.

I’ve added loads of new, cooked-from-scratch recipes to my repertoire, and I’m not alone. Our research for client Tesco showed that the average person is now scratch cooking four times the amount they used to. This is likely to carry on through Christmas with 85% of people planning to cook at least part of their Christmas dinner from scratch.

According to Wrap.org, 53% of families made like Marie Kondo with a lockdown clear-out, as did I. I hope charity shops were a major beneficiary but also that we have become smarter shoppers as a result. Buy well, buy less, pay less. That will be our mantra and the challenge we set for our clients and retailers. Easily done when almost all our shopping is online, but will it continue when the high street reopens? Black Friday will be an interesting indicator. Are we set for record online sales, or has there been a cultural shift away from buying stuff we don’t need?

Real life is great  

It’s been raining cats and dogs at Splendid, but a pet is for life not just a pandemic. I think the national boom will only help make our rediscovery of localised living a long-term cultural shift, hopefully also with the continued revival for British staycations. I’d almost forgotten how beautiful this little island of ours can be.

The rise in pet ownership is likely driven by our innate desire for company and physical contact. Until we can reconnect properly with friends and family, furry friends present a fitting stand-in. But whilst we’ve become a nation of homebodies, there is also no place like a buzzing restaurant with a great menu, a cool bar with your best mates, or a heaving dancefloor with a banging soundtrack.

We will dance together again. We have to. I have to. Nightlife in Britain is worth £66 billion according to the NTIA and, in my opinion, a national treasure. I will be heading back out as soon as it can be done safely. In the meantime we’ve been delighted to work with clients like William Grant, Ramsbury Gin and London Essence Company on their initiatives for the trade and local communities. We’ve also danced from our desks to lockdown events, until we can hit the dancefloor for real. I feel for my friends in the events and nightlife businesses and hope the Government supports them through the challenging times ahead.

Kindness counts

I think brand purpose has finally reached a tipping point. Brands that don’t give something back will get left behind. We have been proud to support some of the biggest companies in the UK like PepsiCo and Tesco on fundraising for the Trussell Trust, and help Big Yellow Self Storage champion a sustainable lifestyle. More widely, we have projects in the pipeline promoting everything from diversity and equality, to mental health and sustainability.

There’s no denying 2020 has been a tough year, but in my vision we’ll come out of it more appreciative of the simple things, more balanced, better connected and kinder. Cheers to that!

Guest Author

Alec Samways, Splendid Communications

CEO,

About

Alec Samways is the CEO at Splendid Communications. He founded Splendid in 2004 to build a communications agency that creates value for brands in the real world. His previous roles included Head of Global Consumer Practice at strategic research consultancy Datamonitor, and Head of Brands division at Slice, a music and entertainment PR specialist. Alec is a family man and former DJ who has suffered from a life-long vinyl addiction.

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Not the year ahead