Medialab COVID Tracker | 01.06.20

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It has been a very long time since we have faced an economic crisis this deep. Over 300 years. In 1706 the drain on the economy from the war of Spanish Succession drove national output down by 15%. And then the great frost followed in 1709. Back to 2020. In May the BoE estimated that GDP will plunge by 25% in Q2. Unemployment is estimated to hit 9%.

Understandably, the effect of the past few weeks or so has been seismic. Organisations have put huge effort into protecting their short-term security, remaining liquid and looking after the needs of their teams, customers, and beneficiaries. As the initial shock of the crisis subsides, marketers need to focus their attention on the generation of future cash flows.

Medialab suggests the following important characteristics of the next phase of the crisis for marketers to bear in mind.

A long period of Financial Constraint

Household spending dropped more than 40 per cent in April 2020 vs 2019. 25% of the UK workforce has been furloughed. To grow in these conditions, organisations will have to establish their value more clearly than ever.

The Ongoing Impact of Social Distancing

The reality of a long period of social distancing has kicked in. The R rate remains high in many communities across the country. The Government has loosened a few restrictions on work, socialising, exercise, and house-hunting. Only some school years will return. And even when restrictions loosen more, our natural aversion to exposing ourselves to disease will, for some, persist. For example, search data for face masks leapt up in line with the Government’s announcement on 11th May. Google mobility data shows movement in residential areas at a high index vs pre-lockdown levels. Whether through making physical locations accessible, reformatting events, or even digitising inventory, deciding on how they will prosper in an environment of sustained social distancing will be key for many brands.

Community & Country

COVID-19 has prompted us to think back to previous periods of great struggle, and the people and institutions that got us through those dark times. The NHS has been placed by government at the core of the crisis, for obvious practical reasons, but also as a talisman of what binds us together and defines the UK. As social distancing limits our movement, and our thoughts focus on our local streets, shops, care homes and people, Community and Country is likely to be a powerful theme for months to come. At different stages in the crisis, searches for ‘help’, ‘support’ and ‘donate’ have all peaked.

Online Before Offline

As Bloomberg reports, a few months ago, Zoom was just a fast-growing start-up in the somewhat boring enterprise communication space. Today, Zoom has become a household name and a kind of new social network. People are socialising, quizzing, working and consuming content online like never before. Google data shows a close relationship between searches for ‘zoom’ and ‘quiz’ and, as has been widely reported, significant growth in search interest in online courses and exercise since the start of lockdown. So, start with online at the heart, even for offline experiences, and enhance them. Wine shops, hairdressers, and restaurants have been active in creating new versions of their previous offline experiences, through wine tasting events, haircut ‘how to’s’ and cookery masterclasses.

A New Way of Working

According to YouGov, 56% of us now claim to be working from home some or all of the time. Twitter will let all staff work from home “forever“. Back to our first trend, others might return to work but want to do so less, wary of the cost of travel on potentially reduced salaries. Many people will have become more aware of the immediate benefits to the environment of driving and flying less. This presents opportunities for organisations. For example, as we return to work, in the short-term at least, we might walk, scoot or cycle more, as search data suggests we will. Could not-for-profits test sponsorship of rides, scoots, or walks to work? Or test asking people to donate the value of the commutes they now are not taking?

This COVID Tracker, along with the rest in the series is powered by Apollo, our data marketing platform, which hosts the Lockdown Live Dashboard. The dashboard provides users with a daily update on how audiences are searching online. It covers work, movement and travel, interests, social contact, and competitor activity. It aims to highlight important changes in these areas over the last 90 days. You can register for free access to the dashboard at the following page:

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