Over the past year, the world threw us a curveball. What we once saw as normal shifted drastically, from social distancing to more and more employers allowing their staff to work from home. When the pandemic first hit last year, we went into a state of shock that resulted in the world basically shutting down. No cars in the streets, everybody was mandated to stay home, and there was talk about sending the National Guard to certain cities.
Without much experience dealing with a global pandemic, people did what they thought was best, which turned into the new normal. It was now normal to buy toilet paper and food in bulk. It was normal to not leave your home and turn to new forms of entertainment. Everything we went through last year helped shift the new normal, but now that vaccines are rolling out and the world is starting to reopen, is there yet another wave of the next new normal?
Pre-pandemic, the world was fairly materialistic. Everyone wanted the next new thing, but if the pandemic has shown us anything it’s that we need to appreciate the experiences we have with our loved ones, not necessarily the next new purse or car. We saw this shift in the luxury retail space where consumers were looking more for an experience versus an item. For example, luxury once meant having the newest Ferrari, but now it has shifted (for some) to having a private driver 24/7, allowing the consumer to have the luxury of time that was once spent watching the road.
We also see this with the influx of AR/VR - this allows people to experience things in their lifetime that they never thought possible. It allows the single mom working four jobs to support her children to see Paris for the first time. It allows the next new level of gaming. In this new world, experiences will play a large role in not only the way people consume entertainment but also shop and go about their day-to-day lives.
I have had the luxury of working from home since the beginning of my marketing career in tech, but this has not been the case for a lot of other people. The pandemic has shifted the way people see the workplace. Employers are realizing that requiring employees to physically go into an office is not necessary anymore, giving people the flexibility to work anywhere they want. I personally know a number of people who are moving away from expensive cities simply because they no longer have to go into the office.
We see this also with the way we shop, whether for food or other items. A large number of retailers now have the option for curbside pickup. This gives people the flexibility of not having to risk their health to go into any store. It also saves time that was once spent perusing the aisles and leaving with more than you walked in for (I’m looking at you, Target). I believe that these will stay post-pandemic because they are changes made for the better and changes we wouldn’t have realized we wanted had there not been a forcing function like the pandemic.
The world as we once knew it is still changing and it seems like every couple months there is a “new normal”. These shifts affect the way we do business, they affect how we live our everyday lives. In order for businesses to stay relevant, they need to make these shifts as fast as the culture around us is moving. Consumers in this semi-post-pandemic world have shifted priorities and now expect new forms of shopping, new forms of entertainment, and it’s now the brands’ jobs to satisfy their customers.
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