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Life on Lockdown: Are We There Yet, Are We There Yet……

In the sixth of its series of market research reports called Life on Lockdown, B&A outlines five more big insights into how the nation is coping and the implications for brands.

Roadmap for the Future

  • The publication of the government’s ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown came just in the nick of time. Patience was wearing thin.
  • Regardless of the detail contained within it, the very act of having a plan in place is uplifting. It’s a commitment to the future. A reassurance that this period of confinement will not last for ever.  We will see the light.
  • And whatever its flaws (we’ll come to those), the roadmap does prioritise the social relationships and connections with the outside world that we’re most missing.
  • There was an emotional response to the news that those cocooning could leave the house for exercise. Increasingly these measures had felt too draconian and damaging to mental health.
  • And rejoicing at the permission (from May 18th) to meet up with friends and family outside. The joy was most palpable among those spending lockdown by themselves and teenagers/young adults cooped up with family. The promise of some ‘real life’ (if socially distanced) fun was most welcome.
  • We’ll whisper it quietly, quite a few were doing this already (and even more will be doing it before May 18th) but it’s good to know that it will soon be legit.

School’s Still Out

  • Notable by its absence was any reference to the schools returning
  • And while not many genuinely expected a return before September, lack of any info whatsoever is disconcerting
  • This confirmation has brought home to us the significant impact this crisis has had on the kids. How much they’re missing out on educationally, socially, psychologically at this time.
  • The impact on the vulnerable is the most concerning. How many out there are having a tough time at home with no escape and no-one to notice? How many will fall behind significantly during this period and how many will never catch up?
  • But they’re all affected, and it manifests itself in various ways. We’re hearing the stories that give us a bit of insight into their mindset. The little boy who keeps his suitcase packed, ‘just in case’ because he’s so missing sleepovers at his granny’s.  The nine year old girl crying at night because she misses her friends.  The upset at birthday parties cancelled, summer term fun abandoned, holiday plans in ruins.
  • And on top of this, the strain felt by parents who have had to be their children’s sole physical source of support, love, entertainment, distraction (while often also working demanding jobs). We’re doing our best for them, but fear we’re falling short.

Envisaging the Future

  • As we turn our thoughts to the new, socially distanced world that’s about to open up before us, we still have lots of questions about how it’s going to work
  • With the best will in the world and cleaning regimes to beat the band, there are still entire sectors that will struggle to work under social distancing. Restaurants, creches, hairdressers, dentists, soft play centres and many more. We’re trying to get our heads around the measures that could be put in place, but its not obvious that anyone will be able to pull it off.  Much less make any profit.
  • How on earth do pubs and clubs observe social distancing? The thought is so contradictory it threatens to break our collective brain.
  • Sports matches are another concern. It’s great to see that training will be permitted soon, but when’s the next time we’ll sit in the stands and cheer on our team? An All-Ireland final behind closed doors (if it happens at all) feels like such a sad compromise.
  • The pubs, the matches these cultural practices make up the fabric of our nation. Can they adapt? Can we?  How long will we have to put them on hold for?  Will they be changed forever?  We have no answers right now.


It’s a Small World

  • When lockdown was announced, our worlds suddenly became very small.
  • While restrictions are lifting slightly, they won’t open up properly until at least 20th July. And that’s just Ireland, goodness knows when we’ll ever get to leave the country.
  • Staying within our two kilometre sphere has felt limiting for a country used to hopping in our cars and hitting the motorway when the notion took us
  • Our day to day experiences have become very monotonous. We go for walks around the same streets and parks, visit the same shop, say hello to the same handful of neighbours, day in day out.
  • We never anticipated how much mental energy we could devote to the small things in life like ‘what route will I take today’ or ‘when’s snack time’ or ‘what will we have for dinner?’
  • It’s a simpler existence and at times it feels like living in a past era (albeit with decent home entertainment systems).
  • And yet there is much beauty in our small worlds and our pace of life is now slow enough to appreciate it. Spring is in full swing. We’re noticing the birds, the buds, the flowers, the twilight.  Passing the same spots day to day we see the blossoming in a way that perhaps we never did before.  And there’s solace in that.

Fragility and Fear

  • If there’s one thing the Covid 19 crisis has brought home to us, it’s how fragile everything we know and love is.
  • This disease, that no one had heard of in November 2019, has ripped through our population causing untold death and destruction. We’ve seen the economy, that we’d been working hard at building, savaged by a bolt from the blue.
  • Our best laid plans, whether that’s summer trips, building small businesses, buying houses, graduating with our class, have been dashed.
  • Perhaps we’ve just been lucky to live in times of remarkable stability? Perhaps the feeling that our lives could be shattered at any minute is much more typical of the human condition than our privileged late 20th and early 21st century experiences?
  • While the Covid 19 crisis will eventually abate, we’ll probably never feel that security and stability to the same degree ever again.

Implications for Brands

  • As we’ve found out this week, it feels good to have a plan and even better to share it with those implicated by the plan. With direction from the government now in place, it should be easier for businesses who’ve been severely impacted by the lockdown to think about their proposals for getting up and running again. Your customers are keen to know what your plans are, so keep them updated as soon as you’re able.
  • As the summer stretches before us, the absence of the usual festivities and milestones will be felt very keenly. If there’s anything your brand can be doing to create an occasion to look forward to (achievable within the guidelines) then that would be very much appreciated.
  • It’s worth thinking about what you can be doing to help the kids cope. There have been some good initiatives in this area already. An Post (which continues to lead the way in this crisis) launched a great kids playbook a few weeks ago.  Lidl’s current garden toy event has also been well received.
  • In the small worlds we’re inhabiting at the minute, small habits and small pleasures assume huge importance. Favourite food and snack brands have become a significant source of comfort at the moment and now is a great time to foster even stronger relationships
  • Feeling tuned into nature has been helping people a lot through the last few weeks. We’re delighted to see garden centres able to open from the 18th May, but if your brand can do anything to facilitate people’s enjoyment of spring, then that would be very welcome.



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