A global pandemic's tsunami-like effect has more than one way to drown out foresight. What the world will look like next week, let alone next year, does not seem very predictable. The effect on culture and our everyday lives are far-reaching, as world preferences shift to adapt to the new reality of the outbreak.

The changes in progress — some predictable (while others still hard to fathom) will change forever when the COVID lockdown is over.

Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash
Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

More Digital Acceptance

It is becoming increasingly clear every day that the way people use technology to spend quality time with loved ones, engage in business, and perform their jobs is shifting to a new normal. Loved ones who haven't seen one another in months are now seeing each other daily. People are getting innovative with virtual wine tastings, social events and keeping up with their formerly "physical" lives with shared workouts.

There will inadvertently be some undesired consequences (mental health and social isolation) that we can only speculate now, but the larger benefits that the growing acceptance of technology will bring will create lasting benefits for us to feel connected. The major benefit of social distancing has been the resistance (by Governments and Consumers) to digital change suddenly evaporate overnight.

Demand for taxis and shared-cars will continue to decline and will not return to pre-Covid levels, because people know now that much can be achieved online without being physically present. The same applies to private and public transport.

Restaurants will not be as packed in the future. The retail stores will not either. Shopping trips will be purpose-driven, with little window shopping and contemplative discovery. People venture out of their homes to buy what they absolutely need, or purely as a short-term escape from the confines of home.

We will start seeing a technology boom created by companies who are trying to develop new technologies that are tailored to remote experiences globally and in for the suburbs. It will be more difficult to get people to come out for your physical seminars, meetings or events. But the good news for experience creators is that the exposure is now infinitely broader, as you can create more impact online, to people outside of your country or territory.

Photo by Dino Reichmuth on Unsplash
Photo by Dino Reichmuth on Unsplash

A greater focus on Local and Regional

From food production to tourism, and supply chains, the global supply chain has already started to shift to more local and regional emphasis. Over the next few years, the world's travel industry will face major headwinds. People will be continue to be wary of areas where COVID evaluations are poor and traditional transport remains overcrowded.

We envision a switch in focus to Local and Regional activities and experiences to make up for the lack of wider travel. In-City activities / experiences will see a sharp rise, giving more opportunities for brands and companies to engage a repressed travel-starved audience.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash
Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

We will also start witnessing a trend of pre-packaged experiences that could create new cross-border experiences in the comfort of your own home. From Shake Shack’s DIY kit in collaboration with GoldBelly, to virtual Wine and Cocktail experiences with top mixologists, consumers are now spoilt for choice when borders and online-engagement are re-imagined.

Expect to see more concepts around the online-to-offline hybrid experience take off, as repressed travel and imaginative marketeers take flight. Activities will start to focus on health and safety of consumers, which opens the doors for new and exciting innovations in entertainment and sports.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Lower Consumer and Marketing Spending

Many countries have already introduced limits on social gatherings of large numbers of people. This has resulted in lower attendance at entertainment hubs like movie theatres and at restaurants and bars. The expectation is that restrictions on movement and large gatherings will be in place for some time.

Businesses (big and small), as recession threats, supply chain concerns or declines in revenue impact their goods, will have to lower their marketing expenses. This would contribute to lower spending on marketing campaigns and customer ads outside their homes. Consumers could also reduce non-essential spending, which may affect the way brands spend ads across their portfolio. Lower entertainment spending outside the home may have knock-on effects for brands trying to reach consumers through out-of-home media like radio and billboards.

Three months ago, consumers might have been reluctant to cut the weekly movie date out of your budget. Perhaps they might have claimed that their annual summer holidays were an essential quality-of-life reward. But moving forward, spending will be more weary and needs based like what we’ve seen in previous recessions.

Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash
Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash

Evolution of Dining Experiences

Food supply technology is likely to increase as most people will continue to dine at home long after the worst has passed. The thermal isolation bags do little to keep fried food crisp, and latent heat is not good enough to produce a 30-minute heating period. We’ve also witnessed a backlash against tech platforms for excessive fees, and we’re seeing low cost options being developed to take advantage of this shift.

Eventually the kinds of dishes available for online delivery will evolve. If the preparation is not complex, people will eventually learn how to cook. Instead of selling a plate of Risotto, a new normal might be to sell the different ingredients in a package? Pre-recorded or Live instructions from the Chef, can also accompany each package. This also opens up a wide range of possibilities for a more global audience, if restaurants and delivery companies can develop ways to guarantee freshness. 

Photo by Duncan Kidd on Unsplash
Photo by Duncan Kidd on Unsplash

However, old habits die hard and there will be a portion of society that will still reminisce for pre-COVID memories. Much like the emergency of vinyl and recycled fashion. Once people see the economy improving, they will spend like before clinging on to prior habits. But such old habits will slowly fade, as people now realise that health is more important than fun, so they will postpone leisure activities as much as possible, or find new social distancing safe alternatives.

For sanity, everyone had create fun from sitting at home during the lockdown time, so many will have to find a bigger excuse to go for fun. In short, in the travel, leisure and entertainment industries we will not see a return to pre-COVID stages. The sooner we accept the new normal, the sooner we can start to rebuild and flourish.

Written By: Kevin Ou