What people are looking forward to most, post-pandemic (part 2)

Nearly two months since we last reported, we review social media to see what people are looking forward to after COVID-19, and how this has changed.
29 May 2020
life after lockdown
Andrew Nelson

Client Director, Media Division

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Since we last reported on what people living through lockdown are looking forward to most post-pandemic, people’s lives have been disrupted even further and we have all had to adapt to a ‘new normal’.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change,” according to Professor Leon C. Megginson... and it is much the same for brands. The most adaptable brands to change will be those who survive. Therefore, knowing what is currently top of mind with consumers is absolutely key.

For many people, the lockdown has meant doing things for the first time. I have ordered wine and groceries online and bought hair clippers (the latter much to the enjoyment of my 6-year-old son).

Search data from Google Trends and purchase data from Kantar suggests I am not the only one who has enjoyed a home haircut or a wine delivery. The chart below shows worldwide search interest in the keywords “hair clippers” and “wine delivery” over the past 5 years:

Living in lockdown 1

As we wait to learn how and when the lockdown is likely to ease, what are the things that keep us going? We applied human and artificial intelligence to social media English-language conversations around COVID-19 to identify what people are most looking forward to doing after lockdown. Here are the top 10 things we’re now most looking forward to after COVID-19:

1. Night out / Pub / Drinking with friends

Clubs, pubs and alcoholic drinks brands will be pleased to hear that a night out with friends is now in the top spot on the list of post-COVID-19 activities. The +3,000% growth since week one goes to show how much we miss socialising with our friends over a drink, in person, as opposed to over a screen. The phased release from lockdown could be a party pooper, but on-trade should expect a significant bounce back. Pubs with beer gardens should expect to see more visitors as social distancing rules may favour premises with more space.

Living in lockdown 2

2. Festivals and gigs

Moving up from fourth to second place, many more people are craving live music. Experiencing one’s favourite band live or going to a festival is high on people's to-do list.

3. Pampering

The number one most anticipated activity (after week one) has dropped down to third place. This may be because, after several weeks in lockdown, people are starting to focus less on their appearance. If you own a hairdressing business, spa, beauty salon or masseuse we still expect to see a boom in business once restrictions are lifted. With social distancing rules in place, mobile services will potentially be favoured.

4. Travel

After six weeks, many more people are starting to think about their next vacation. Travel has shot up the list from 8th to 4th place. As the reality of restrictions sink in, the types of trip people are talking about has changed. One user aptly summarises: “We’ve been planning a fun family trip….it would be a trip that allows us to travel but still be “isolated” in nature.”

5. See loved ones / friends and family

Many more people are saying they simply want to see friends again or give their parents, grannies or grandpas a hug. We miss each other, probably more so than ever. Houseparty, Zoom and WhatsApp are good enough for now, but our need for face-to-face interaction is not waning. It makes you wonder if we will ever complain about family at Christmas in the same flippant way again.

6. Sporting events

Watching or playing sport has moved from 9th to 6th spot.

While it may feel like the distant future, we could be set for a thrilling and jam packed 2021. With loyal fan bases, most sports will experience a bounce back, but restrictions on large gatherings may see stadiums empty for some time. This has interesting implications for sponsorship, as big games may be played behind closed doors for a while. Until then, some people are taking to watching replays: “Just watched Ashes 19 replay with Sky. What an unbelievable cricket match. Can't wait for live sports to come back after #lockdown.”

7. The Outdoors

Safe social distancing activities such as going to the beach, fishing, walking and hiking could prove very popular after the lockdown first eases. With summer upon us, many will be wanting to stretch their legs in walking books or on a bike. For others, it’s just about getting a change of scenery; as one user said, “The first thing I’m doing after this quarantine is over is go to the beach and have a picnic.” With picnics set to be allowed again as the first phase of the lockdown ease, brands should be ready to harness that potential opportunity.

Search data also suggests the outdoors may see a big and early bounce back. Our analysis found seed words such as cycling, fishing and beaches, are higher in March 2020 compared to the summer months July/August 2019, at least for the USA. A few more weeks of tracking will tell if this is seasonal.

 Living in lockdown 3

8. Eating out

Many people still want to head straight to their favourite restaurant, although this activity has dropped from 2nd to 8th place in the list. Kantar consumer purchase data may help to explain why our craving to eat out has been temporarily quashed by the return of foodservice delivery – in the UK, there were 22 million more delivery occasions in April than there were in March. As more of our favourite outlets open their kitchens for delivery, how will this trend continue?

Living in lockdown 4

9. No changes

 “Staying at home” may have dropped 4 places (to 9th), but our social media analysis is only capturing what people are saying they are most looking forward to. Many people are no doubt enjoying downtime in the lockdown; our search data from the US shows interest in Netflix or Video Games has never been higher.

 Living in lockdown 5

10. Retail therapy

“Going shopping” has dropped three places since week one. Some people “literally can't wait to physically shop once this quarantine is over”. Bricks and mortar stores should consider tapping into experiences people enjoy and offering virtual equivalents such as outfit picking or trying on.

There are some offline retailers who will really benefit from the impact of lockdown. Our search data suggests DIY and Garden Centres are going to experience a significant bounce back. It appears spending more time at home has given rise to more interest in home improvements and activities such as growing vegetables.

 Living in lockdown 6

One thing we can all be sure hasn’t changed: we miss people.

Get in touch to learn how social media intelligence can give you a unique insight into your target audience and help inform your strategy for brand growth.

Want more like this?

Read: What are people looking forward to most, post-pandemic? 

Read: One in five UK homes signed up for a new video streaming subscription during COVID-19 lockdown

You can also listen to Andrew discussing the findings from this research on BBC Radio 4’s ‘You and Yours’ consumer programme. Jump to 24mins 30secs in this podcast.

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