As the world begins a slow recovery from the worst of the pandemic, it is clear that lockdown has had a profound impact on how we live. The fear of contagion, the experience of isolation, and the economic uncertainty that continues, are changing consumer behaviours for good. As new synaptic pathways take shape in our brains, new habits typically form in around 66 days.
Digital behaviours most obviously accelerated – how we work, learn, shop, socialise and play. Zoom’s daily user base rocketed from 10 million to 200 million in 3 months. Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+, achieved the same growth in 5 months that Netflix achieved in 7 years. Online shopping grew more in 8 weeks than the last 10 years, telemedicine went from 2% to 98% of all initial health appointments in 15 days.
The importance of health and wellbeing is set to endure, as we become used to low-touch experiences. At the same time, we value humanity more, caring for society, family and neighbours. As a result, our physical shopping behaviours change too. Local proximity, but self-service, less frequent visits, baskets of flour and detergent, rather than clothes and cosmetics. Sustainability became a more or less significant issue depending on safety and economics.
Nesting in our homes, we became more subdued too. Our wanderlust to travel was quashed by quarantine, as airlines and hotels have perhaps been worst affected, typically losing 90% of their business. Most people lost confidence in using public transport, so roads became more congested as we slowly ventured out, while many city centres have remained ghost towns.
Socialising, except for the initial youthful exuberance to party again, has been more moderated. Many restaurants still operate as kitchens for home delivery, fuelling the continued rise of delivery companies like Deliveroo and Just Eat, who have added groceries and medicines, in a similar way to the Asian super-apps like Grab and Meituan Dianping. And our love of small brands, like craft beers, has given way to a trust in larger, familiar brands.