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Five More Big Insights from Latest Wave of B&A’s Life on Lockdown Research Reports

As the country prepares for Phase One of the lifting of restrictions, the seventh in the series of B&A’s weekly survey Life of Lockdown looks at some of the key findings of this wave of research and the implication for brands.

The Buck Stops Here

  • As we move into the next phase and Life in Lockdown starts opening up (slightly), we’re thinking about how we’ll manage our own personal risk.
  • In planning our returns to work and life, we’re rethinking some of our long standing habits. Like getting that bike out of the shed so we can avoid public transport. Or bringing food and flasks to work to swerve kitchens and canteens
  • In a more general sense, taking responsibility for our health strikes us as suddenly very important. Prior to the Covid 19 crisis, the young(ish) and healthy were guilty of taking all this for granted.
  • Now we’re realising that exercising, taking the right supplements, losing a few pounds could be the difference between, if not life and death, getting off lightly and serious illness.
  • Some of us are even thinking ahead to getting a general health check as soon as that’s feasible.
  • However, at the same time we know that personal responsibility is only one factor. Keeping Covid at bay is a collective effort. In many ways, it was easier when we all ‘battened down the hatches’, but as we come out of lockdown we’ll have to contend with other people’s assessment of risk as well as our own.  How will we cope with co-workers who aren’t the best at social distancing?  Or who expose themselves to greater risk than ourselves?  It sounds like a bit of a nightmare to be honest, but how we cope remains to be seen.

The Class of 2020

  • As the plans for the 2020 Leaving Cert were finally announced, we realise (again) that certainty is the thing we value most.
  • It’s been tough on the kids keeping them waiting for so long, but the stress (and studying) are finally over.
  • Is it the best solution? Who knows? For all that it favours steady workers at high ranking schools, total ‘fairness’ probably isn’t an achievable goal.
  • Most students and their parents seem happy, at least for the moment. Let’s see if that changes when the teacher assessed grades come in. We don’t envy whoever’s heading up the appeals process!
  • It’s interesting to find that despite the very significant role digital solutions have played for us in this crisis, there are some situations where old-school, face-to-face experiences just can’t be replaced.
  • For the students, the relief is palpable. But at the same time, the highs, lows, intensity, rituals, celebrations and trips to Ibiza that they’ve been anticipating all year have been replaced with … nothing. The next four months stretch out aimlessly in front of them (with Electric Picnic cancelled too, the final kick in the teeth).
  • While we’ve all been affected by the crisis in a various ways, the class of 2020 have been coping with the disruption of a huge milestone and a lot of stress. We’d love to make it up to them, somehow, at some point …

Home is Where … Everything is

  • Our experience of the Lockdown period has been hugely shaped by our own four walls
  • Our homes have had to up their game considerably, now multi-functioning as offices, schools, creches, canteens, playgrounds, even bars and spas – often all at the same time.
  • Consciously or unconsciously we’ve been organising our home space more carefully to make it work better for us. Spare rooms pressed into service, ironing boards redeployed as desks, the kitchen table as the focal point of the house and the ‘hub’ where home schooling, home working, cooking, eating all come chaotically together.
  • Those of us influenced by late 2010s trends, choosing smaller homes in central locations and open plan layouts, may be living to regret their life choices. The limitations of flats and apartments become starkly obvious.
  • But those with the means for large gardens, home office space and teenage dens are really feeling those benefits now. Have we missed the Aldi hot tub offer?
  • We’re also witnessing colleagues and acquaintances in their home environments to a much greater degree. The need to ‘curate’ Zoom backgrounds is an unexpected feature of lockdown life. Be careful of controversial books on the bookshelves.
  • And while we’re excited to get out of the house more as Lockdown eases, the home looks set to have heightened importance in our lives for a good while to come. Whether we view it more as a sanctuary or a cage, in a world where lockdown may be instigated again at little notice, our reliance on our homes has skyrocketed.

Treating Ourselves

  • The Covid 19 crisis has robbed us of much of the rewards and high points that kept us going. Holidays, nights out, drinks in the pub, shopping sprees, matches, meals out.
  • Without these treats on the horizon, life feels very flat. There’s little to look forward to and motivate us, we’re missing the endorphin rushes these activities delivered. And this can’t be doing our mental health any good in the long run.
  • Online shopping is filling the gap to some degree. The arrival of the post man is the high point in the day, sad as that sounds. However, there’s a limit to how much stuff we need right now.  What’s the point of buying lots of new clothes with no one to show them off to?  Zoom parties just don’t do a new outfit justice.
  • We’re looking for new treats to look forward to (beyond just chocolate and alcohol). We’re sorely missing a bit of ‘fun’ in our lives, something to motivate us as we trudge through work, home schooling, endless cooking and washing up through the week.
  • As lockdown lifts slightly, opportunities emerge. Friday night takeaway is already becoming an established ritual for some. It marks a division between the work week and the weekend, which is very important at the minute as the days melt into each other.
  • But looking for inspiration and new occasions to deliver these dopamine hits.

National Treasures

  • One of the things this emergency has brought home is our failure to appreciate the good things we had in life.
  • We swear now we’ll rectify this in the future. That we’ll learn to treasure what we have. This may or may not be true, but it’s a comforting thought right now.
  • One of the things we are thinking about right now are holidays. As the sun comes out, we’d normally be counting down the weeks until we pack our bags and go.
  • We’re nostalgic for the missed opportunities of 2020. But interestingly its holidays within Ireland that we’re most focused on and most looking forward to renewing.
  • We feel more than ever the beauty on our own doorstep, most of which is slightly out of reach until the end of July at least
  • We can’t wait to revisit our favourite domestic holiday spots and experiences. And we’re sure we’ll get more out of these holidays in the future when we know they can’t be taken for granted any more.
  • Travelling abroad is much less appealing right now. We don’t know when it will be possible, what restrictions will apply, the very thought of planes and airports at the minute is anxiety inducing.
  • So it’s Wexford, Cork, Kerry, Galway for the foreseeable. We’ll pack our raincoats!

Implications for Brands

  • As people start to take more responsibility for their own health and safety, there will be lots of opportunities for brands to support them in this. There are specific opportunities when it comes to protecting ourselves from Covid 19, but people are thinking about their health in much broader terms too so the scope is significant.
  • Diet, fitness, supplementation, screening, checks will all be on consumers’ minds. Plus, there will be pent up demand for appointments for non-critical health issues that have been put on the back burner during the crisis.
  • For brands that deliver strongly to teens/young adults, now is a great time to engage with the Leaving Cert cohort. There are a range of needs to deliver to here, from celebrating that it’s all over, to replacing the rituals that they’ll miss, to setting goals and challenges to keep them occupied in the coming months.
  • For brands in the home and interiors space, now is the time to help and inspire customers as they seek to repurpose their home for more multi-functional use. Thinking more deeply about what homes need to deliver now would be of great benefit to consumers.
  • Treats and rewards offer big opportunity area for brands who can deliver here. What new social occasions will open up as restrictions lift? How can they be delivered to?  Takeaway coffee and donuts?  Picnics in the park?  Fancy desserts for Sunday dinners?  Cocktail kits for garden get togethers?   What occasion can you deliver to and own?
  • We’re not sure how much of a domestic holiday season there can be this year, but if it can be delivered, the demand will be there. Its also worth reminding consumers of the beauty of their own country, now that they’re in a frame of mind to really appreciate it.
  • Bonus points for operators who keep their pricing fair as business gets up and running again.

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