5.5 The Pulse Of Covid-19: The Trends Of The Past Week

Did you know the Chinese phrase for ‘crisis’ is formed of two characters loosely referring to ‘danger’ and ‘pivotal point of potential opportunity’? This juxtaposition is how we are living our lives today. From reopenings to reconfigurations, we are desperately working to move forward without tumbling backward. So, how do we start building towards what’s next?

A huge and often difficult part of moving ahead is focus, prioritizing what you do and don’t need to pay attention to. A standout piece of leadership advice comes from General Stanley McChrystal’s on Reid Hoffman’s Masters of Scale podcast, where he states, “If you have twenty priorities, you don’t have any. If you’ve got three, you’ve got priorities. The real courage in a leader is not in telling people what to do. It’s telling them what it’s okay not to do.” 

As we learned during the 2008 recession, it’s not just leaders making priorities moving forward; it’s consumers as well. As people are forced to tighten their belts, they begin to reprioritize and reorient their spending around the things they love and that are most critical to their lifestyles. As we witnessed during the last downturn, brands that spent time deeply understanding their audiences paved the way for the rise of today’s billion-dollar brands like Glossier, Warby Parker, and Everlane.

With that in mind, we look into reopening strategies, tastemaker communities, and other rising trends that might provide sparks of inspiration, insight, and levity as we move ahead.

This week we’ve woven Harris’ latest data throughout the trends, highlighted in bold

Businesses In Beta-Configurations: Businesses and leaders start to perform massive social experiments and beta tests around what the reopening and reconfiguration of our daily lives will look and feel like. And this is just the beginning, as Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently commented, “As Covid-19 impacts every aspect of our work and life, we have seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.”

  • A diagram of beta plans: New Zealand Prime minister Jacinda Ardern imagines a world of “travel bubbles” as a measured way of opening international travel restrictions, starting with their neighbor Australia. Meanwhile, Quartz features the world’s best battle plans to overcome the economic crisis to guide reopening strategies, and in the Netherlands, McDonald’s has created a trial concept restaurant adapted for social distancing. In the meantime, Thai Airways is giving people airline miles for staying at home, using geolocation data to verify their claims. 
  • Sticking to contactless: Americans are looking forward to shopping after the pandemic but plan to keep it contactless. Mastercard reported that contactless payments have jumped 40% as shoppers fear germs on cash and credit cards. While our data shows 49% of Americans say they will shop online more than before the pandemic as their area reopens (compared to 15% who say they will shop more in-store). To help businesses reopen safely and meet consumers’ expectations, Shopify adds a curbside pickup option to their revamped point of sale technology.
  • Deploying testing & mask distribution: Kroger expands coronavirus testing for employees with free self-administered kits and drive-thru appointments, while Whole Foods plans on handing out free face masks to customers to keep their employees safe. And, in Hong Kong, free face mask vending machines are being installed across the city.
  • Sani-Lux expectations continue to rise: As businesses reopen, more Americans say they would require extreme cleaning (57%, +4% increase), mandatory masks (50%, +13% increase), and mandatory spaced seating (46%, +11% increase) from 3 weeks ago, to feel comfortable returning to normal activities.
  • Car-as-a-sanctuary becomes a top priority: From mental health technology to invisibility cloaksBloomberg examines how luxury automotive brands are responding to Covid-19. In our research we see almost 1 in 5 (19%) of Americans plan to buy a car once things return to normal and businesses reopen. And to make Americans feel safe visiting a dealership, Americans expect dealers to sanitize vehicles between test drives (36%) and offer free, contactless delivery or pickup of the car (32%). Over 1 in 4 would like online-only interaction to negotiate financing and trade-in (26%) as well as virtual car showings (25%).
  • And finally, revenge spending is heating up across the board as consumers dream of a life outside of their homes:

Emerging Tastemaker Communities Bubbling Up: Living life in the long-tail, people are reorienting themselves around the little joys in life and connecting to like-minded passion communities across the social web and world.

Reconfiguring Entertainment For Release: As a culture, we’ve recognized we are going to be in some form of social distancing for a while, and people are starting to get creative and rewire entertainment around this new reality, finding joys and moments of levity in new outlets.

NEW YORK, USA – APRIL 30: USNS Comfort, the hospital ship leaves from New York City, United States on APRIL 30, 2020. (Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Moments of Relief

This week’s mood is dedicated to parents, who have never appreciated teachers more. Happy Cinco De Mayo y’all. 25% of Americans say they are drinking more during the pandemic (+6% increase from 2 weeks ago). 

That’s it for now. Till next week.