What comes next for consumers and the mood? Here's what past pandemics tell us
History has a habit of repeating itself and so there are lessons for brands in the way people returned to life post-SARS.
- When the viral spell of SARS broke, author Karl Taro Greenfeld wrote in The New Yorker, Hong Kong seemed to wake from a fever dream
- People started to return to doing things they had pre-virus but the city, and its people, had forever changed in ways small and large
- As the government works through its timeline of lifting CV-19 restrictions, brands should be preparing for the ‘next normal’
While the CV-19 curve may have flattened, the return to life as we once knew it will be slow and controlled. It’s likely that some states will see restrictions lifted more quickly than others. And, most tragically, it’s going to be a while before we can wrap our laughing gear around a few Oprah Tinfreys down the pub.
Still, we can take some cues from what life looked like after past pandemics. Most notably, SARS.
Author Karl Taro Greenfeld writes, “The end of SARS was accompanied by a curious combination of hope and fatigue.” As was to be expected, restaurants reopened and people started to talk to each other in person once again. But some businesses didn’t come out the other side.
So what will this ‘next normal’ look like for brands and businesses here in Australia?
One thing we know for sure is CV-19 will have a significant and long term impact on media consumption habits of Australians.
Mediums like outdoor and radio will find the environment challenging and will need to pivot. I suspect we’ll see much more outdoor inventory near our homes and supermarkets in the short term. Radio will start making more podcasts and online video.
Elsewhere, the impacts of CV-19 are already been seen in changes to consumer behaviour. According to a report from Chinese analytics firm QuestMobile, China has seen its online population expand as previously tech-resistant consumers, especially those from older generations, have gone out and bought smartphones to keep in touch. But China is a very different market to Australia where smartphone penetration already sits at 72%. Instead, we’re likely to see this play out with a sustained increase in online shopping, particularly from older generations that have been forced to embrace the wonderful world of e-commerce.
In reality, we’ll likely see a second outbreak, albeit much better controlled. It’s likely we’ll have to pivot advertising plans on the fly as they lock down and ease on a region by region basis. Brand managers that have been flexible over this time will build confidence and learnings as a result.
There will be challenges but there will also be opportunities, particularly for brands with local origin stories to tell or businesses born out of the changing environment.