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Discover The Future of Work

While COVID-19 famously impairs its victims’ sense of taste and smell, there is a different kind of symptom many of us have developed: an impaired sense of time. Initially, we all expected this to be over in a matter of weeks, perhaps a maximum of a month or two. But after well over a year, our often monotonous daily routines coupled with the perpetual connectivity leading us to create fewer distinctive memories. It’s as if we’ve found ourselves in the Groundhog Day movie, where Bill Murray mysteriously and repeatedly wakes up to precisely the same day. 18 months of hanging out on Zoom and endlessly scrolling social media has had a profound impact on our relationship with time. In fact, a recent survey revealed that over 80% of participants reported that their perception of time felt different during the pandemic. Even those reaping the rewards of all that extra time spent online are feeling it: Charli D'Amelio, a TikTok star with 109 million followers, reported earlier this year that she’s ‘lost the passion’ for posting content.

As the world is slowly opening up again (hopefully there’s no new wave around the corner; inshallah), people are beginning to reassess what they hope to gain from their time. A new desire to break free from pandemic-induced stagnation and emptiness is leading to people looking forward to making the most of their time: having fun, spending time with family and creating new memories, amongst other thing. Recent research shows that 68% of participants are planning to emerge from quarantine as new people. In fact, six in 10 polled in the research are planning to live each and every day to the fullest, post-pandemic. COVID-19 has reinforced our belief in the notion of Carpe Diem: seize the day! Enjoy life, now! From Taiwan to Guam, Indonesia to the US, consumers are taking 'AirVnV' (Vaccine & Vacation) trips. As the Airbnb CEO, Brian Chesky, rightly said: “Consumers have the travel bug. Prepare for the 'travel rebound of the century.’” Instead of following the old social norms that dictated how a life should be lived, consumers now increasingly want to construct their own lifestyles based on how they want to spend their time.

In their new quest to make the most of life, consumers are looking for brands that offer a reprieve from their harsh daily reality. They will appreciate brands that push them out of their comfort zone by offering products, services, and experiences that pull them out of the monotonous zone they’ve fallen into. For a retailer, capitalizing on this new attitude means rethinking consumer behavior and shopping habits in order to become part of their new way of life. For a bank, this could mean injecting ‘personalized financial wellness’ into their products and services. While it may sound counterintuitive, currently, to use technology to give consumers what they want when they’re already overwhelmed with connectivity, this is exactly what Sundayy is trying to do. This social media platform enables users to check updates once a week. Users write hidden 'reflections' from Monday through to Saturday. On Sunday, these reflections are revealed and people can see what their friends have been up to. Instead of fighting against consumers’ impulses, brands are actively using these impulses to nudge consumers towards healthier behavior. How you can do the same? Have a look at some of the initiatives below:

  • Nike’s Play New campaign encourages people to take up sport, irrespective of their skill level. Several high-profile elite athletes are shown simply having a good time, celebrating the #fails rather than concentrating only on the wins
  • Technology company Vivo launched #SwitchOff in India to encourage users to take a break from their devices, and spend time with friends and family instead. #SwitchOff highlighted issues like digital dependency and the resulting feelings of isolation, as well as the benefits of taking a digital detox. Many consumers appreciate brands that help them switch from mindless scrolling to more meaningful activities
  • Fam.ily is an experience brand developed by the Shangri-La Group with the aim of creating vacation experiences for multi-generational families. Guests can take part in a range of curated activities designed to encourage generations to spend quality time together
  • The gum brand Extra launched a campaign earlier this year to encourage Australians to fast-track their plans out of lockdown. Anyone can text a number with their name, email address, and the name of a venue they can't wait to visit again – and, if chosen, Extra will take care of the bill

With so many of us losing loved ones and no one being ‘safe’ from the virus, our pre-COVID priorities, outlooks, and preferences have been completely upended, leading many of us to reevaluate what we truly want from our lives. In so much chaos, brands can help consumers seize the day. The first step along this new road is to get rid of demography-based segmentation and adopt a lifestyle-based segmentation to help customers make the most of their time. How aware are you of the specific changes in your customers’ lifestyles as a result of the virus? And how are you applying this awareness to your products and services? Have you made ‘time’ integral to your customer experience strategy? Carpe Diem! Help customers do what they want to do today, don’t leave it until tomorrow!