One of the clues to understanding how behaviour will change after the lockdown is to look at what people have found to be better.
Coronavirus and lockdown have disrupted the lives of millions around the world, affecting not just one part of our lives but everything from shopping to socialising to working. As a result of this disruption, our previous habits have been ripped apart while new behaviours are being adopted en masse.
While the new behaviours are well documented, the fascinating question for brands and marketeers is …. what will happen in the long term? Will we revert to normal? Or will our new behaviours become ingrained habits?
No-one has a crystal ball, but we can look to behavioural science and research for clues.
The longer-term impact of disruption
Owain Service, CEO of BI Ventures, has a good perspective on this. In a recent WARC webinar he suggests some behaviours are likely to be retained in the long term, those that will become our new habits, are those that we realise are ‘better’ than their predecessors.
The example he uses is the London transport strikes of 2014. That disruption of habits led to 5% of people switching permanently to travelling in a completely different way, as they realised what they had been doing wasn’t optimal.
So, the answer to what long term behaviour change we are likely to see will depend on which new behaviours people find to be ‘better’.
What has changed?
To help start a conversation around the behaviours that may stick going forwards, we conducted a survey 17th – 19th April among a 2,000 sample of the UK population.
This shows that the behaviours that have changed most are those that have been forced upon us; distancing, hygiene, buying only essentials, spending more time with family and slowing down.
However, these are not necessarily ‘optimal’ behaviours. What is more interesting is those that people want to carry on doing when life goes back to normal.
What will stick?
The chart below categorises recent behaviour change by firstly how widespread they are (those that more widespread on right-hand side) and by how likely they are to stick with them long term (those likely to stick at the top).
Looking at the top right of the chart, our research suggests that the new hygiene habits may well continue (good news for brands in this territory). Other widespread behaviour changes that may well stick are making home/ garden improvements, family focus and exercising at home/ in parks (something gyms may need to address, especially as people are also saying they will continue only spending money on essentials).
Preparing for these likely behaviour changes will ensure brands are ‘bounce back ready’. Developing strategies around, for example, how to be a part of an optimised home and garden, how to facilitate more family time, facilitating learning of new skills, being part of a new exercise regime, can all help brands to be relevant in the new normal.
What to explore?
This gives a broad overview, but to help individual brands prepare they need to explore:
- How has the context and attitudes around my brand changed?
- How has behaviour in my category changed?
- What have people missed most and which new behaviours do people see as better?
- What does my brand have in its DNA that can help it to be a part of these new behaviours?
We are finding it is a great time to research these questions; we’re gaining access to respondents previously difficult to get time with and with sensitive, and relevant questioning we’re getting a real richness to information.
Moreover, using behavioural science-based techniques allows us to get under the surface and finding new insights that can really help brands find the edge that will be so important at ‘bounce back’. If we can be of any help to think through these challenges, please give us a call.